Ever since Dabo Swinney has been Clemson’s head coach, he’s been trying to restore balance to the Tigers’ personnel chart at quarterback.
From the get-go, he’s dealt with the unexpected.
In 2009, Kyle Parker beat out Willy Korn, and Swinney played his first season with a redshirt freshman quarterback, while Jon Richt transferred out of the program.
In 2010, Parker was a first-round draft pick in baseball, delayed his entry into the Colorado Rockies farm system to play at Clemson as a sophomore, and then had an up-and-down season marred by injuries and inconsistencies.
In 2011, the coaching staff signed three freshman quarterbacks – Cole Stoudt, Tony McNeal and Morgan Roberts – while Tajh Boyd took over as the starter, and then learned and executed Chad Morris’ new offense to the tune of a record-breaking, first-team All-ACC season. Stoudt, meanwhile, played as a first-year freshman backup, while McNeal and Roberts redshirted.
Clemson aimed for the cream of the crop in recruiting for 2012, and next week, Morris will sign his first hand-picked quarterback – Chad Kelly out of Buffalo, NY, a record-setting passer and runner who is the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly.
Assuming that the Tigers will be able to redshirt Kelly in 2012, at this time next year Clemson’s quarterback personnel chart will have the balance Swinney is seeking: Boyd as a rising senior, Stoudt as a rising junior, McNeal and Roberts as sophomores, and Kelly as a redshirt freshman about to step on the field and compete for a spot in the mix.
And even should Boyd emerge as an NFL draft target after his junior season, the Tigers should be well-positioned for a smooth transition to their next starting quarterback.
The coaching staff is well along in its quest for another top-tier quarterback for 2013, and already has an early offer out for a 2014 quarterback, as well.
Returning Starter (1)
Rising junior Tajh Boyd: First-team All-ACC, he led the conference in total offense per game (289.0), passing yards per game (273.4), touchdown responsibility (38), touchdown passes (33), and completions (298).
Other Experienced Players (2)
Rising sophomore Cole Stoudt: Seven games, 71 snaps, 12-of-12 passing for 115 yards as a first-year freshman.
Rising junior Donny McElveen: He’s a walk-on who has appeared in one game at quarterback during his career, and also serves as one of the Tigers’ backup holders for place-kicks.
In The Pipeline (2)
Redshirt freshman Tony McNeal, Chester, SC
Redshirt freshman Morgan Roberts, Charlotte, NC
Committed for 2012 (1)
Chad Kelly, 6-3, 210, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, Buffalo, NY: Back-to-back 2000-yard passing/1000-yard rushing seasons…ranked as the nation’s No. 4 QB by both Rivals and ESPN, No. 20 by Scout.
Remaining 2012 Targets
2013 Early Offers (5)
Cord Sandberg, 6-2, 180, Manatee HS, Bradenton, FL: Clemson and Auburn are leading the early pursuit, with North Carolina also in the mix.
Riley Ferguson, 6-2, 190, Butler HS, Matthews, NC: Early target of LSU, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and others, in addition to Clemson.
Brayden Scott, 6-2, 195, Tahlequa, OK: He was on Clemson’s radar even before Brent Venables joined the Tigers’ coaching staff. He also has early offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Tulsa, Arizona State and Arizona.
Max Browne, 6-5, 200, Skyline HS, Sammamish, WA: An early national recruit, with offers from California, Colorado and Wisconsin, among others.
Johnathon McCrary, 6-4, 190, Cedar Grove HS, Ellenwood, GA: He’s attracting a Who’s Who of suitors from around the Southeast and nationally, including Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas.
2014 Early Offer (1)
Deshaun Watson, 6-2, 180, Gainesville HS, Gainesville, GA: He was offered last summer after attending Clemson’s camp, following a freshman season in which he passed for 2,500 yards and rushed for 700. He’s also a Division 1 basketball prospect.
Some Players To Watch For 2013
Kelston Smith, 6-2, 230, Union
Carlis Parker, 6-3, 190, Statesville
Matt Johnson, 6-3, 210, Maiden
Caleb Pressey, 6-1, 180, Twin Cities
Anthony Jennings, 6-2, 200, Marietta
Marqui Hawkins, 6-1, 180, Columbus
Bryant Sherreffs, 6-3, 210, Jefferson
J.B. Woodman, 6-1, 185, Orlando
Pete Dinovo, 6-2, 190, Tarpon Springs
Andrew Mitchell, 6-5, 215, Niceville
J.T. Barrett, 6-1, 200, Wichita Falls, TX
Devante Kincaid, 6-0, 175, Dallas, TX
Allen Thigpen, 6-2, 195, Chandler, AZ
2012 Clemson Targets Who Will Sign Elsewhere
Jameis Winston, Hueytown, AL – Florida State
Chad Voytik, Cleveland, TN - Pittsburgh
Anthony Alford, Petal, MS - Southern Miss
Greyson Lambert, Jesup, GA - Virginia
Cyler Miles, Denver, CO – Washington
Matt Davis, Houston, TX – Texas A&M
Zeke Pike, Edgewood, KY - Auburn