Prior to the Sugar Bowl, Clemson quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter admitted he was concerned about how he was going to distribute the reps when the Tigers started spring practice.
At the time, he thought he would have six quarterbacks with just a couple of hours each day to break up the reps. But thanks to the transfers of redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper and redshirt sophomore Tucker Israel, Streeter is now in a great situation when it comes to the Tigers’ quarterback situation.
The four remaining quarterbacks—returning starter Kelly Bryant, Hunter Johnson, redshirt freshman Chase Brice and true freshman Trevor Lawrence—should all get about the same amount of reps in the spring. That’s especially huge for Lawrence if he wants to be a factor in the quarterback competition this summer.
Bringing the roster down to four quarterbacks will also benefit Brice after he redshirted in the fall and spent the majority of the 2017 season on the scout team. Now Streeter will get an opportunity to better see how well Brice developed from meetings, virtual reality, film session and junior varsity practice during bowl prep.
With Cooper out of the way, Johnson will now get an opportunity to prove if he can challenge Bryant for the starting job. Johnson showed flashes of how good he can be when he got his opportunities last year but he just did not get enough of them.
Now, with Cooper gone, Johnson will go into spring drills as the clear No. 2 quarterback. Lawrence and Brice will push him, but he will have an opportunity, especially considering he has a year of experience in the offense under his belt, to really compete and push Bryant.
And there is the good news. Johnson will be pushing Bryant.
If Clemson wants to win the national championship next season, and it has the team to do it, then it needs Kelly Bryant to become a more polished passer. Granted, workouts, off-season conditioning, practices, film study and all of those things make a player better.
However, the No. 1 motivation in any sport is playing time. Competition for a starting job makes everyone involved better, including a guy who is already 12-2 as a starter, won an ACC Championship and led his team to the College Football Playoff.
Kelly Bryant is going to have to compete for his job and that’s a good thing for Clemson. The Tigers may have lost two quarterbacks to transfer in the last three days, but in the process it gained a nice and healthy competition.