Dabo Swinney has no idea how the Tigers' four-way, spring-and-summer battle at quarterback will resolve itself.
But whoever wins the starting job, Swinney is confident that the Tiger offense will be in good hands.
“We’ve got four quarterbacks that are great, natural leaders,” Swinney said. “That’s just in their DNA.
“Their personalities are different. Cole Stoudt is an excellent leader, as is Chad Kelly. He’s going to be out in front in everything, right in the middle of it. DeShaun Watson has been a starting quarterback since the ninth grade, and grade school. He’s used to it. Nick Schuessler came in here as a walk-on and he’s a guy we have to have at that position, and he’s also an excellent leader.
“That quality, you can check the box on all of them.”
Stoudt comes into the competition with a clear advantage in experience, having spent three seasons, and an extra spring, in Chad Morris' offense as Tajh Boyd's backup. Kelly has spent two seasons in meetings and has gotten his feet wet on the field, while Schuessler isn't a typical walk-on, having been initially signed as a scholarship player by an SEC school.
Watson, meanwhile, was hand-picked by Morris as just what he wants from a quarterback.
Swinney said when the competition begins, “everything counts.”
“The situation here is that we have some really good players and some great talent at that position,” said Swinney. “We'll let them go compete. Everything counts. When you have a situation like this, it’s your academics, it’s your leadership, how you respond to coaching, it’s performance, it’s practice.
“Everything counts when you have to make a tough decision. I’m really looking forward to it because I think we have great candidates.”
He said both Kelly and Stoudt have already demonstrated their initiative in preparing for the competition.
“I’ve seen Chad out on the field doing drills by himself,” Swinney said. “I had to go do a little video over in the indoor practice facility, and there’s Cole working by himself, doing drills. Those are things that you like to see because you know you’ve got guys that really want to be the guy and that they are going to go above and beyond to give themselves a chance to win the job.
“And then you throw in Deshaun, who is as talented of a guy as we’ve ever signed here. It’s exciting. At the end of the day, we are going to have a guy ready to go when it comes time to play, but we’ve got a long way to go before we figure all of that out.”