Brandon Streeter isn’t playing any favorites.
Clemson’s recruiting coordinator and quarterbacks coach is asked all the time who he thinks will be the team’s starting quarterback when the 2017 season begins, and his answer his simple: I don’t know.
“There’s honestly not a guy in my mind that I’m like, who’s going to get it,” Streeter said during his signing day press conference on Wednesday. “Everybody’s asking me that. I don’t know. They all have an opportunity.”
All-generation quarterback Deshaun Watson is gone, but the Tigers remain loaded with talent at the position.
What does Streeter know right now? Well, he reiterated Wednesday that rising junior Kelly Bryant will be “the guy” when spring practice begins on March 1 after showing Clemson’s coaches steady progress over the course of his career.
However, Streeter re-emphasized that it’s open game for all of the quarterbacks on Clemson’s roster, including the two new ones the Tigers signed today.
“You start with Kelly Bryant. He’s earned the right to go out there day one of spring practice on March 1 and be that starter,” Streeter said. “That’s obviously been communicated to him and to the whole group, so everybody understands that, and he deserves that. He’s done a great job of improving each and every year, each and every week, and I’m excited for him.
“They also know and they’ve heard it straight from me last week that everybody’s going to have an opportunity to be the guy. Everybody’s going to have the reps and the opportunity to rise to the top.”
Bryant will start at the top but face stiff competition for the starting role.
Redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper didn’t get many reps in practice during the 2016 season, but the former consensus top-300 prospect has plenty of potential, and Streeter said he took advantage of his sit-out year to gain a better understanding of the offense.
Meanwhile, Clemson’s other returning scholarship quarterback, Tucker Israel, has been in Clemson’s system as long as Bryant has. Streeter said he will get his shot, as well.
Then there are the 2017 quarterback signees, five-star Hunter Johnson and four-star Chase Brice.
Johnson, the nation’s No. 1 quarterback in his class according to ESPN, arrived on campus as an early enrollee in January and thus will participate in spring practice.
The best player in the state of Indiana, Johnson was named Mr. Football as a senior at Brownsburg.
“Great kid,” Streeter said. “Another kid that’s going to have an opportunity.”
Though overshadowed by Johnson, Brice is a top quarterback prospect, too. The top-200 prospect per Rivals went 40-7 as a four-year starter at Grayson (Ga.) and led his team to a state championship in 2016.
“Chase Brice coming in in the fall, in the summer, he’s going to have just as much an opportunity,” Streeter said. “He just won’t get the reps in the spring, obviously.”
As the quarterbacks prepare to battle it out, Streeter is stressing that they stay within themselves, not try to be who they aren’t and help each other become better along the way.
“It’s very important that each and every one of those guys be themselves, and I’ve told them that,” Streeter said. “Last week we had a meeting, and that’s what I told them. I said just be yourself. Be who you are. Coach (Dabo) Swinney says that all the time, but it’s so true. Don’t try to be Deshaun Watson. Don’t try to be Nick Schuessler. Just be who you are and be the best you can. Compete with each other, but help each other out, and things are going to work out.”
So, Streeter has a wealth of capable options to work with. Because he knows the offense will be in good hands with whomever is at the helm, he’s upbeat about the situation at quarterback ahead of next season.
“They all have great character. There’s no distractions,” Streeter said. “They’re all willing to work hard. They’re all coachable, they’re all smart, they’re all talented, so I’m just so excited to go into the situation to help continue to mold them.
“And I’m excited because there’s an unknown out there, and the unknown is who’s going to be the starter come the 2017 season. There’s a lot of work to do, but I have a lot of confidence in the guys that I have here.”