Though he said he plans to play multiple quarterbacks this coming season, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney wanted it to be known at the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte earlier this week that Kelly Bryant will go into fall camp as his starter.
“Where we are, right now, today, Kelly will go into camp, because he has earned that,” Swinney said. “I have not given Kelly anything. (Brandon) Streeter has not given Kelly anything. Kelly has earned that and he earned it this spring. But the gap going into fall has closed. You give credit to Chase (Brice) and you give credit to Trevor (Lawrence) for that.”
This is the second year in a row Bryant went into camp with uncertainty about his status. Bryant ended up beating out Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson for the starting job last year. They both have since transferred. Cooper transferred after the season was over to Jacksonville State, while Johnson transferred to Northwestern following spring practice.
“Last year, when we went into fall camp, it was very close,” Swinney said. “I thought it might stay close and we might have to play over into the games, but Kelly separated. It was not close. It was to the point where we were like, ‘Okay! This is our guy. Let’s go!’ He earned that so it is the same thing.”
However, it is not totally the same thing. The competition never got to the point where Swinney said he was going to play multiple quarterbacks in 2017. It never got to the point where Cooper and Johnson seriously threatened Bryant for playing time.
This year, he it has gotten this way because of Lawrence, who shot up the preseason depth chart after going into the spring at No. 4. Now the freshman, who was the No. 1 player in the country in the 2018 class, is listed No. 2.
“You have to go into camp and you have to let them compete just like every other position,” Swinney said. “If somebody separates, great! If not, if it is close, then we have to go to the games. That is all we have in college football.
“We don’t have preseason games. It would be great if we had some preseason games. That way we could roll them out there and kind of get them some live action and see what happens, see if anyone separates. We don’t get that luxury.”
Nope, all colleges get are 30 practices, which includes three full scrimmages. As the Tigers head into fall camp, which begins on Aug. 2, the starting job is Kelly Bryant’s to lose.
“If Kelly separates or somebody passes him, we will let you know. I do not have a time line for that. If it is close, we will let you know that too and we will go from there,” Swinney said.
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