As far as Dabo Swinney is concerned, the more competition that the Tigers can muster at the quarterback position, the better for his team, and program, in both the long run and short run.
With numbers limited - Morgan Roberts left the program during the off-season and Tony McNeal has chosen to give up football because of injuries - all the quarterbacks on Clemson's roster should get plenty of reps this spring.
Dabo Swinney said on Tuesday that Clemson will go into spring practice with a 1-2-3 pecking order of Tajh Boyd, Cole Stoudt and Chad Kelly. Also working at the position will be redshirt freshman Nick Schuessler, a teammate of signees Wayne Gallman and Ryan Carter who led Grayson High to a state title in 2011 and originally signed with Mississippi State, and veteran backup Donny McElveen.
He expects strong competition for the No. 2 spot between Stoudt and Kelly, but isn't concerned if the roles aren't decided by the end of spring drills.
“As far as somebody separating this spring, I don’t know that that will happen, but I’m sure by the time we get ready to crank it up and play the Bulldogs, we’ll know who’s going in as the No. 2 guy and who’s No. 3,” Swinney said. “Hopefully this next year we’ll have an opportunity to play more than one guy a little bit more often.”
Stoudt, who has served as Boyd's backup for the past two seasons, played in eight games last fall and 27 of 39 passes for 212 yards and three scores.
Kelly joins the competition after a record-setting high school career in Buffalo, N.Y. Both come pro football families. Stoudt's dad, Cliff, was a long-time NFL backup quarterback, while Kelly's uncle, Jim, is an NFL Hall of Famer.
“Right now Cole is clearly our No. 2 guy, but I think it’s going to be an interesting battle,” Swinney said. "Cole is a heck of a player, and he's performed well for us and has helped us win games. He’s the only other guy with any experience.
"He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but he’s been a proven part of our success the last couple of years. We have confidence in a guy like him who's ready to go in there for Tajh if needed."
Kelly, he said "turned some heads in fall camp."
"I don’t think there’s any question that’s going to be a fun competition," Swinney said. "That’s the way it should be. I don’t have any doubt those two are going to compete their tails off this spring in trying to win that second-team spot."