Clemson University

How Clemson’s freshman QB reminds coaching staff of Tigers great Deshaun Watson

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Michel Dukes, Chez Mellusi are off to a strong start
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Michel Dukes, Chez Mellusi are off to a strong start

Clemson has had no problem bringing in top-tier quarterbacks under Dabo Swinney. While Taisun Phommachanh wasn’t as highly-regarded as Deshaun Watson or Trevor Lawrence coming out of high school, it appears as though the freshman has a bright future with the Tigers.

Clemson signed the No. 1 player in the country in the class of 2018 in Lawrence, and the No. 1 quarterback for 2020 — DJ Uiagalelei — is committed to the Tigers.

In between the two five-star prospects, the Tigers signed Phommachanh, who is off to a promising start. (His name is pronounced “Tyson PUMA-chon.”)

“He has really been a bright spot in this camp,” Swinney said.

While Phommachanh wasn’t a five-star prospect, he did have a strong high school career.

The Connecticut native passed for 5,224 yards and 42 touchdowns during his time at Avon Old Farms School. He added 1,264 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground and was ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the country by the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has already seen enough from Phommachanh to compare him to a Tigers legend.

“Physically, the guy is gifted. He’s very, very smooth. One thing you can tell is when you look at him, he really reminds you a lot of Deshaun — just has a cool, quiet, calm demeanor,” Elliott said.

Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t freshman moments for the 6-foot-3, 220-pound quarterback.

Phommachanh still has a ways to go as far as mastering Clemson’s system, but he could factor into the quarterback rotation in the next few years.

“Phommachanh, I think, early on was really doing really, really well,” Elliott said. “But then here as the installation has piled up you’re seeing that he’s a freshman. Trying to handle the motions, the shifts, the protections. It’s really starting to pile up on him.”

Projected Clemson QB chart

1. Trevor Lawrence

2. Chase Brice

3. Taisun Phommachanh

4. Ben Batson

Matt Connolly is the Clemson beat writer and covers recruiting and college sports for The State newspaper and The