CLEMSON, S.C. —This time last year, Dabo Swinney and the Clemson coaches felt a little restless when it came to the quarterback position.
Though they had DJ Uiagalelei settle in as the starter, there were tons of questions behind. Taisun Phommachanh was injured and the only quarterback behind him was walk-on Hunter Helms.
As the Tigers moved into the season, their concerns worsened. Uiagalelei struggled in the season opener at Georgia and never fully recovered from the rough start. Injuries to his right knee and index finger on his throwing hand only complicated matters later in the season.
Phommachanh was not a finished product by any means, so Clemson’s best bet was a beat up Uiagalelei, who was doing his best to help his team.
However, this spring, Swinney appeared to be at ease when talking about the quarterback position.
“Oh yeah! I rest really easy on that position,” he said. “I love the guys that we have there.”
Uiagalelei came out of the spring as the Tigers’ starting quarterback, while freshman Cade Klubnik has worked himself into position to compete for the job this fall. Helms and Billy Wiles came out of the practices battling for the third spot.
When camp begins at the end of August, Hunter Johnson will be back in the fold as he transfers back to Tigertown after spending the last four seasons at Northwestern. Johnson will be enrolling at Clemson in Summer One.
“This is as good of a room we have had at quarterback in a long time, once we get everybody here,” Swinney said.
The Tigers were pretty deep at quarterback in 2017, but Johnson and Zerrick Cooper transferred after spring practices in 2018, in large part because of Trevor Lawrence’s presence in the program. That fall, Kelly Bryant left the team, too, after Lawrence took the starting job from him following the fourth game of the season.
Clemson went on to win the national championship that year and finished the season 15-0, the first team in major college football to put up such a mark.
“In 2018, we won it all and Hunter Renfrow was our third-team quarterback. Trevor [Lawrence], Chase Brice, a redshirt freshman, Hunter Renfrow and Will Spiers was our fourth team. So, we are going to have a lot of functional guys in that room that I know will be ready if we need them.”
The Tigers hope they do not need them all. The 2022 season will kick off on Labor Day night when Clemson takes on ACC foe Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Classic in Atlanta.