CLEMSON – Forgive Chad Kelly if he’s a little confused on the how’s and when’s in the Clemson quarterback race. He, his competitors and the media covering it are hearing a lot right now.
Asked if he believed he had a “realistic” chance to wrap up the spring as ‘QB1’ – Kelly gave his assessment as best he could see it.
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“Realistic? I hope so,” the Niagara Falls, N.Y. product said in an exasperated tone, smiling wide. “I’m trying to play right away and I know all those other guys are. It’s up to the coaches. They tell y’all how it is and then they tell us something totally different. They are just giving y’all something to write a story about I guess.
“Everybody is doing a good job. It’s a great competition and healthy and everybody is doing good.”
Making a more political play you would expect of a veteran, senior Cole Stoudt says he’s not worrying about coming out on top at the moment as much as competing each day – leaving those questions for the coaching staff.
In Monday’s full-contact scrimmage, Kelly, Stoudt and mid-year freshman Deshaun Watson rotated between the three teams.
”(Clemson OC Chad Morris) does a good job of making it all equal,” Stoudt said. “Getting a good read on everyone. We all kind of split the reps. Switching first and second team and some ‘pride.’ It’s all about getting us comfortable to play.
“I have some thoughts (on who’s leading), but it’s more of a question for coach Morris or coach (Dabo) Swinney.”
Morris said Monday one of his worries was balancing competition and a “healthy” respect within the group. Stoudt says that hasn’t been an issue so far.
“We are all battling,” he said, “but we all have to be on the same page and encourage each other…All of the quarterbacks have to be on the same page and coach each other. If the quarterback room isn’t right, nothing is right. Everyone feeds off the quarterbacks.”
Still 150-some days out from kickoff at Sanford Stadium, the Tigers’ boss says there’s just not enough separation among the trio to assess front-runners.
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“There’s five months of good decision-making and commitment ahead of us,” Swinney said. “Leadership. All kinds of stuff. There’s a lot of things that sill have to be done. As we’ve told them, everything counts if you’re going to be the quarterback of Clemson – the face of this university.
“And it’s not like you have one guy who’s way out in front of everybody. Some days it’s this and some days it’s that. A lot of back and forth with really good players.”
But as he’s maintained all spring, a quarterback will emerge – and he’s confident they will take everything they’ve learned into the fall.
“I don’t have any doubt when these guys get out of the spring they will pick up where they left off in the spring game, offseason program and take it into the summer,” said Swinney. “That type of leadership is going to be priceless for us. They are all good leaders and all want to be the guy. They are all working to be the guy. It will all sort itself out.
“I wish it was easier, but you have to go through the process.”