Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell says he didn’t have much of a reaction on Monday when he found out that Clemson has officially named Kelly Bryant the starting quarterback for Saturday’s season opener against Furman.
“I was just like, ‘OK,'” Ferrell said. “He was the starter last year, so I don’t even think I was supposed to be like, ‘Oh, yes!’ or like, ‘Dang, really?’ I just kind of go with the flow.”
Bryant beat out true freshman Trevor Lawrence and redshirt freshman Chase Brice to earn the starting job — at least for the time being. Clemson is expected to play multiple quarterbacks this season, and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott reiterated on Monday that Lawrence has earned the right to play, adding that the season-opening depth chart is simply a starting point and things can change on a week-by-week basis.
Dabo Swinney and Clemson’s staff have maintained all offseason that they believe they can win with any of the three signal-callers, and Ferrell agrees with the coaches.
“I trust the coaching staff regardless,” Ferrell said. “So, regardless of who runs out there, I know our team is in good hands. I feel like regardless of whoever the quarterback is, they’ve put in the work, and any of the three quarterbacks that we have back there — Chase, Trevor, Kelly — they can go out and win games for anybody in the country.
“So, I didn’t really have too much of a reaction to [Bryant being named the starter]. I was just like, ‘OK, cool.'”
The senior Bryant started every game for Clemson as a junior in 2017, leading the team to a 12-2 record and its third straight appearance in the College Football Playoff. The native of Calhoun Falls, S.C., completed nearly 66 percent of his passes for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions, while rushing for 665 yards and 11 more scores.
Though Bryant struggled in the spring game, while Lawrence — the nation’s No. 1 player in the class of 2018 — shined, Ferrell believes Bryant was Clemson’s best quarterback on the whole during the offseason.
“In the past spring, I feel like Kelly definitely had the best spring out of all the quarterbacks,” Ferrell said. “And then watching this summer, I feel like Kelly played his best ball that I’ve seen him play this whole entire summer.”
Meanwhile, Ferrell said he saw Lawrence continue to make strides this summer, especially from a mental standpoint, after enrolling early in January and going through spring ball.
Bryant will be the first to run out when Clemson’s 2018 season gets underway Saturday at Death Valley, but the quarterback competition will continue into the season, and Ferrell says that’s a great situation for the Tigers to be in.
“I’ve seen Trevor make a huge jump as well just from the mental side of things — having to learn a whole new playbook as a freshman is really tough coming in,” Ferrell said. “And to see Chase as well, all of them just come in and make these big strides…
“I feel like all of them are playing at a really high level, which is the beauty of it. Because it’s one of the best problems that you can have in college football, when you have three quarterbacks who are competing. A lot of people say it’s a competition, so it’s one of those things to where whoever you go with, you’re going to be happy or satisfied with regardless. So, I feel like all of them are playing at a really high level, for sure.”