Dabo Swinney Says Kelly Bryant Leading Clemson QB Race

    Clemson started spring practice on Wednesday as it looks to defend its national title in 2017. Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said there is already a leader to replace Deshaun Watson.

    March 1, 2017

    Clemson started spring practice on Wednesday as it looks to defend its national title in 2017. Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney said there is already a leader to replace Deshaun Watson.


    Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on Wednesday that Kelly Bryant is leading the race in the battle to replace two-time Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson as the team’s starting quarterback for 2017.

    The Tigers began spring practice on Wednesday, when Swinney addressed the media at a news conference about who would step into the shoes of one of the most successful quarterbacks in ACC history. Watson helped lead the Tigers to a 14-1 record in 2016 and their first national championship since 1981.

    The rising junior Bryant has very limited on-field collegiate experience, completing 13 of 22 passes for 75 yards while adding 178 yards on 35 carries in parts of 12 career games with the Tigers.

    While Swinney said that Bryant is the clear No. 1 to open spring ball, he expects a competition every day and will not promise a firm decision when spring drills are over.

    Swinney and co-OCs Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott as well as the rest of the staff will oversee a battle that is highlighted by Bryant, Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson. Bryant may be considered the safest pick because of his experience in the system and the fact that he saw the field last season, but rising redshirt freshman Cooper has the most intriguing returning skill set. Johnson was hotly recruited and is an early enrollee. There’s a chance that multiple signal-callers will be used in 2017 as well.

    Whoever does win the job won’t have it easy, as wide receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott as well as running back Wayne Gallman are gone. However, the Tigers do bring back Hunter Renfrow, Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain from last year’s wide receiving corps, and running back Tavien Feaster averaged 6.0 yards per carry in a limited role in 2016. His style of play is similar to former Tiger C.J. Spiller.

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