CLEMSON—For the Clemson fans looking for some ground-breaking news regarding the highly publicized quarterback battle after the first five days of camp an appropriate adage would be that there is “nothing to see here.”
At least, insofar as, the fact that the status quo still remains the status quo, according to head coach Dabo Swinney.
“Kelly’s still the most consistent,” Swinney said following the Tigers’ practice in full pads. “He’s had five really good days—just has an excellent command. Zerrick (Cooper) and Hunter (Johnson), just great potential and are doing an excellent job as well. They’re all doing a really good job, but Kelly’s just a little more consistent just decision making. You know, making the right decisions. They are all three doing really good.”
Surprisingly though, even with the reassurance from Swinney that Bryant would be the starter if the Tigers played today, Swinney made it clear that this was not only a three-man race for the starting quarterback job—it is a four-man race, with the summer enrollee Chase Brice now on campus.
“Nobody asks me about Chase Brice, and he’s pretty good too,” Swinney said. “He’s pretty good. Here’s a kid that has really impressed me, because I thought he would be behind and man, he is displayed a great aptitude to pick it (the playbook) up.
“He’s done a good job with the protections and all that and he’s still making up some ground, but he’s sharp and has done some really good things.”
While Bryant still holds the title of “starter,” Swinney made it clear that there is still a lot of time before the Tigers will suit up Sept. 2 to face Kent State, and between now and that date it is Bryant’s job to keep the job and the other three’s job to take it away.
“It is four-man race—they’re all repping. We ain’t wasting reps out there. Every rep counts. So, we ain’t got but four in camp, so it’s a four-man race,” Swinney said. “As we said coming out of camp, Kelly’s the starter—and nothing has changed. And it’s his job to stay there and its them other guys job to go get him. We’re at Day Five—we’ve got a long way to go until Sept. 2, so we’ll see.”
Even in the midst of one of the most highly contested quarterback battles to ever grace the practice fields at Clemson, Swinney is not worried about ego’s getting in the way of these quarterbacks.
In fact, it is the exact opposite that has occurred—as he has been impressed with the willingness of each of the quarterbacks to help each other to be the best that they can be and that includes Bryant, who does not want the job simply given to him.
“That’s just our culture here. These guys, it’s amazing, they all know they’re competing and I think they all have a respect for the other competitor,” Swinney said. “And he (Bryant) knows that Zerrick wants to be the guy—he knows that, but it’s the culture that we have here that they embrace that. They help each other and support each other.
“Kelly has gone above and beyond to help all those guys. He don’t want anything given to him. Kelly has zero entitlement to him, zero. He’s one of the nicest children you’ll ever meet in the world. He’s just 100-percent focused on him, and he wants to win it and earn it. He knows that for him to do that, it’s all about what he does. It’s not about what anybody else does, but at the same time he wants to be a great teammate. I see that from all these guys.”