The battle at starting quarterback is the most compelling saga of Clemson’s offseason. Succeeding Deshaun Watson is a coveted distinction, and the race is expected to endure through August camp.
The front-runner is the natural heir, junior Kelly Bryant. He is the most experienced of the competitors, albeit relative. Bryant has appeared in 12 games through his brief Clemson career. That meager amount is still 12 more than fellow aspirants Hunter Johnson and Zerrick Cooper.
Bryant completed 13 of the 22 passes he attempted in that limited playing time. He added 178 rushing yards. He is an electric runner, and that often induces observers to mischaracterize his ability as a passer.
Bryant has three months to earn the coaching staff’s trust, to earn and retain the starting role. During the summer, he can build a rapport and hone the timing with top targets Hunter Renfrow, Deon Cain and Ray Ray McCloud. He can continue to sharpen his understanding of the offense through study and analysis.
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He seemingly has every advantage to close camp atop the depth chart. Yet, even if Bryant does not take the first snap each game, Clemson should ensure that he at least takes a few series.
With Watson and running back Wayne Gallman departed, Bryant is the most dynamic playmaker and the most explosive runner on the roster. He is equipped to be way more than a package player, more than a relief pitcher. But even if Clemson’s staff decides the Tigers need a change at starter, they still can keep Bryant loaded as a change of pace.