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QB battle likely not decided until September, or longer

ROCK HILL, S.C. — If Dabo Swinney could name who his starting quarterback will be on Sept. 2, when Clemson opens the season against Kent State, then he would have done it yesterday.

That’s what the Clemson head coach told The Clemson Insider on Monday prior to IPTAY’s Prowl & Growl Event at the Rock Hill Baptist Church in Rock Hill, S.C.

The Tigers wrapped up spring practice on April 8, and Swinney indicated he is no sure now about whom his starting quarterback will be than he was after the annual Orange & White Game in Death Valley.

“I would have liked to have had it made yesterday,” he said while laughing. “But we do not play until September. I know everyone would love to say, and I know I would, Deshaun Watson is back and next question, but that is not where we are. We have competition going on and the good news is we have some very talented people.”

Swinney actually said they were highly competitive and highly talented people, which is what makes it a positive in his mind. Of course Swinney is trying to replace the most talented quarterback Clemson has ever had in Deshaun Watson who led the Tigers to the national championship 105 days ago.

Watson is expected to be a first-round draft pick in Thursday’s 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia, Pa. This spring, junior Kelly Bryant and freshmen Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson battled it out to see who can win the job.

After talking with Swinney on Monday, it seems like they will be battling it out well into September or even longer.

“It will all work itself out,” Swinney said. “We just have a long way to go. Everything matters. If we played today, Kelly Bryant would be the starter. He definitely, today, gives us the best chance to win. But, we don’t play until September so it is going to be a great competition.

“Kelly is excited about his opportunity. Those other guys, they are not going away. So how they work this summer and how they perform in fall camp, the scrimmages, that is all we can do from an evaluation standpoint and then see where we are when we start the season.”

And don’t be so sure the guy who starts the season will be the same one who ends it.

“Regardless of who starts the season, you have to have consistency in performance and you have to continue to get better, so it will be … I think it is fun,” Swinney said. “I don’t dread it. I don’t hate it. I know fans a lot of times want to be able to check that box. It is really no different than any other position.

“We have a lot of competition at a lot of spots, but they just do not have the light on it like this one.”

–Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

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