Clemson started spring practice last week and has held four workouts so far, including two in full pads.
Tigers freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is challenging Kelly Bryant for the starting job, has been impressive early on, according to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
“He’s done great … He’s done a really nice job; he’s very poised,” Swinney said. “Obviously he’s skilled, but he’s a very poised guy, too, and so far, he’s really demonstrated good demeanor and he’s picking things up well.”
Clemson has an embarrassment of riches at quarterback that most schools can only dream of.
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In addition to the returning starter in Bryant, the Tigers have the No. 1 overall recruit for 2018 in Lawrence, a former five-star recruit in Hunter Johnson and a redshirt freshman who has impressed the coaching staff since he stepped on campus in Chase Brice.
“The first thing that stands out is just the talent. We’ve been around here for a long time where some years it’s been one guy and some years we’ve had two guys that maybe were ready,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “I really believe that all four of these guys are ACC starters. They can play at a lot of places.”
Swinney agrees and recently offered his thoughts on all of Clemson’s quarterbacks, starting with Bryant.
“We didn’t luck up and win the ACC, we beat some good teams and he was a big part of it,” Swinney said. “You’ve got a proven guy that’s led your team to a playoff the third year in a row, has led your team to an ACC championship. He’s an unbelievable leader, just a great young man and very committed. You got that guy, who if he’s the best guy, it ought to be obvious.”
Swinney then talked about Johnson, who split time with Zerrick Cooper as the backup last season.
Cooper transferred in the offseason, leaving Johnson as one of two quarterbacks to have thrown a pass in a college game.
The Indiana native passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns in seven games as a freshman.
“You’ve got another guy in Hunter Johnson that really came on mentally, took him a little while to really kind of get the mental part caught up with the physical part,” Swinney said. “Very gifted, talented young player that’s incredibly committed, focused, same thing – excellent leader.”
Brice, a Georgia native, led Grayson High to a state title in 2016 and was 40-7 as a starting quarterback during his four seasons.
He passed for 2,830 yards with 33 touchdowns and three interceptions as a senior.
“He’s just kind of a gunslinger man. I mean he’s a winner,” Swinney said. “Incredible job on the scout team last year. He’s tough, he’s savvy, he’s got an excellent arm and great instincts for the game. Again, he’s been a big-time winner his whole life.”
Lawrence, who also is from Georgia, was a four-year starter at Cartersville High and finished his career 52-2 as a starter.
He passed for 13,908 yards and 161 touchdowns during his high school career, breaking Deshaun Watson’s yards and touchdowns record.
“You’ve got Trevor, who just showed up, who has obviously got every tool you could possibly want in a quarterback. He’s got unbelievable arm talent, size, he can run, he’s had great experience, he’s an awesome winner,” Swinney said. “So we’re going to choose from the best of the best. And as a coach, that beats choosing from the best of the bad any day of the week … We’ve got great competition, and they’re going to make each other better. But they all understand, somebody’s got to run out there first … Competition is a great thing. But all of those guys can win, all of them have bright futures, and it’ll be fun to watch them all develop.”