"Unfortunately, when Cole got here, we really didn't have a backup quarterback, so he had to be that guy as a true freshman," said Swinney recently.
Stoudt beat out fellow early-enrolling freshman Tony McNeal for the job, and he was stuck there for three years - working as understudy and backup while Tajh Boyd rewrote Clemson's offensive record books.
It's been a tough role for a player Swinney says has the ability to play in the NFL.
"Cole has prepared, literally, every game for three years to be our starter," Swinney said. "He's been one rolled ankle away from having to perform.
"He's a young man who's been groomed to be a quarterback for life. He's matured greatly, and has been very unselfish. He's been a team guy. He could have been starting at a lot of other places - a lot of other places.
"He's been a great backup to Tajh, he's always been ready when he's been called upon. He has a great understanding of our system."
Now, Stoudt will get his turn, with what Swinney sees as an opportunity to carve out his "next level future."
"His time at Clemson will be over next January, but you only need one great year," Swinney said. "I've said many times that I think Cole is a guy who's capable of playing at the next level.
"He'll have to go out and perform at a high level in order to earn that opportunity."
Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc