All-American and two-time Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson is gone.
But Clemson is not fretting about finding a replacement at quarterback.
The Tigers have 4- and 5-star quarterback talent stacked up like cordwood.
Hunter Johnson, the No. 2 quarterback recruit in the class of 2017 per the 247Sports Composite rankings, has enrolled and will join Kelly Bryant and Zerrick Cooper -- a pair of highly-rated dual-threat QBs -- in the battle for the starting job during spring practice.
This summer, Chase Brice, the No. 11 pro-style quarterback in the country, will be on campus .
The top player in the country for the class of 2018, quarterback Trevor Lawrence out of Georgia, has committed to Clemson.
So how do the Tigers keep reeling in top quarterbacks year after year? Recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter said there are several reasons.
“Our people, our culture, winning, Deshaun Watson, that helps, getting that notoriety and going to the national championship game and going to the Heisman two years in a row and just showing how successful he’s been I think attracts people,” Streeter said. “When we get them here on campus we can sell it even more.”
Clemson’s fast-paced, spread offense that has been one of the most productive in the nation since Chad Morris took over in 2011 is also a big draw.
Tajh Boyd set the ACC record for total touchdowns with 133 and passing touchdowns with 107 as the starter from 2011-13.
Watson followed by helping Clemson to a 10-win season as a true freshman in 2014 before winning the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s top quarterback, in each of the past two years. He capped his career by leading the Tigers to their first national title since 1981.
Top quarterback recruits see the success of Boyd and Watson and imagine themselves having similar success at Clemson, Streeter said.
“Both of those guys not only had the talent, but what we sell in our program a lot when we’re talking to quarterbacks is, ‘You get to be the face of our program,’ ” Streeter said. “Not everybody can be the face of the program and have that character and have that presence and be able to do it on the field and off the field. I think that’s what Deshaun and Tajh both had.”
Just because Clemson has a bevy of top quarterbacks already on campus or signed, and the top quarterback in 2018 already committed, doesn’t mean the Tigers are satisfied and will look to find a “project” quarterback for 2019 or 2020.
Clemson will continue to try to stockpile as many elite signal callers as possible.
“The biggest thing for us is every year we want to go get the best guys that fit our program,” Streeter said. “No matter what we got the year before we’re going to get the best guy in ’18. We’re going to get the best guy in ’19, the best guy in ’20, if they’re a good fit.”
With Clemson’s track record with quarterbacks and Dabo Swinney and his staff’s ability to recruit, there is no reason to expect the run of top quarterbacks coming to Clemson to stop anytime soon.
“It comes down to the people. When they get here and their parents are around us and they feel the family atmosphere and it’s sincere and it’s not fake. And then when you get around Coach Swinney and you know about his stability here, that’s very important for them to hear ,” Streeter said.
Loaded at QB
A look at the highly-ranked QBs Clemson has recruited:
6-4, 200; Brownsburg, Ind.
Freshman enrolled in January.
6-3, 200; Loganville, Ga.
Freshman enrolls in August.
6-2, 205; Jonesboro, Ga.
Redshirted in 2016 as freshman.
6-6, 196; Cartersville, Ga,
Part of the recruiting class