The media spoke with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney after Monday evening’s practice where he provided much insight on position battles, starters and redshirts. The main take away? Kelly Bryant has been named the starting quarterback for the Tigers’ first game of the 2017 College Football season against Kent State on Sept. 2.
With one day left in fall camp, Clemson also began work on Kent State as it starts game prepping for its first opponent.
Here is what we heard after Monday’s practice:
“We have named Kelley the starter,” Swinney officially announced Monday night. “He’s earned it, you know. He is going to be our starter. We are excited about that. I’m really proud of Kelley, first of all. If you guys knew how precise we are in our grading, in our evaluation, and the things that we put these guys through, this has been a great competition first of all.
“I’m really proud of all of the guys because they are just good people. I love to see competitors. They all want to be the guy but I love to see them happy for somebody else. So it’s been a really good spirited competition but this part of the competition is over. Kelly won it, it’s just that simple. He won it. Grades have to count, everything matters. I’m really proud of him because he had from when he got here a long way to go. He’s embraced it, now he’s really playing with a ton of confidence.”
Although Bryant has been named the starter for the first game, the junior must continue to prove himself with each and every play, as redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper and true freshman Hunter Johnson are not far behind him.
“He’s doing a great job of leading so that’s where we are,” Swinney said. “Zerrick will be the No. 2, first guy off of the bench and Hunter is right there. I mean they are right there together so hopefully we can get all three of those guys some playing time in the first part of the season here.”
Bryant also has the support and backing from redshirt junior wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.
“Last year he was a backup,” Renfrow said. “Now he has great command of the offense, he’s playing really well, making good throws and processing things faster. We know he’s the guy right now and we’re rallying behind him.”
Another player who has earned a starting role is punter Will Spiers.
Spiers will be the starter,” Swinney said. “He’s won the job and won the competition, and he’ll have an opportunity to be the guy.”
Swinney also went into detail about which freshman will avoid redshirting this year.
“The two receivers (Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers) for sure will play,” he said. “I believe A.J. (Terrell) will play. On defense Justin Foster is probably not ready to play but we really almost have to play him just because we have to get him ready as the season goes just because we have talent at that position but not much experience.
“Hunter (Johnson) will play, Travis (Etienne) (will play). Probably hold those three offensive linemen. Blake Vison is probably a guy who we will keep with us for a little while. We just have a lot of versatility in our line. Guys can move. But we will probably keep repping him a little bit… he’s one of those bubble guys that we probably won’t make the decision on until later.”
Swinney also said defensive tackle Jordan Williams and cornerback LeAnothony Williams will most likely redshirt, while he’s hoping defensive end Logan Rudolph will play. However, Swinney did say all of these decisions could be subject to change as injuries come up throughout the first part of the season.
The Tigers will have their last practice of fall camp on Tuesday afternoon at Jervey Meadows.
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