Clemson has found its fourth quarterback and it is not Hunter Renfrow.
Though the wide receiver is still an emergency quarterback for the fourth-ranked Tigers, head coach Dabo Swinney announced he has found someone who will stay at quarterback the rest of the year.
That guy is punter Will Spiers. The redshirt sophomore, who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 225 pounds, played quarterback in high school for Calhoun Academy in Cameron, S.C.
“Will Spiers was a quarterback in high school, a really good quarterback and probably, to be honest with you, throws the ball about as good as any of them out there. He can flat out rip it,” Swinney said following Wednesday’s practice.
Spiers of course has been Clemson’s starting punter the last two seasons and he will continue to be. He is averaging 39.1 yards per punt this season as he has downed seven punts inside the 20-yard line already, with just one touchback. He has two punts over 50 yards this year, including a long of 51 yards.
Last year, Spiers started all 14 games for the Tigers, while averaging 40.6 yards per punt with 25 downed inside the 20-yard line and four touchbacks. He had 12 punts over 50 yards last season, including a career long 64 yards.
“He is a guy that I will probably just leave there,” Swinney said. “He does not have anything else to do but play Fortnite, anyway. Those punters and kickers don’t do nothing (laughing). So, that will give him something to do with his time instead of going down there and playing ping pong.
“He can be a real functional guy for us as a backup. He has a couple of years left and it does not affect him from a punting standpoint. It keeps him engaged in something else.”
Overall, Swinney says the Tigers are in a lot better spot at quarterback than they were last week when Kelly Bryant decided to quit the team and transfer after Swinney announced freshman Trevor Lawrence would be the starter.
Redshirt freshman Chase Brice, who engineered Clemson’s come-from-behind victory over Syracuse after Lawrence got hurt, of course will be the No. 2 quarterback and freshman Ben Batson will be the No. 3 guy.
Lawrence has worked every rep with the first-team offense this week and Swinney said he was one of those guys who had his best practice on Wednesday. The true freshman is expected to make his second start for Clemson at Wake Forest on Saturday.
The biggest beneficiary of having a whole week of practice is Batson, who was just cleared to practice last week after breaking his finger in early September and all of a sudden discovers he might have to play.
“He is one of them that is in a better spot. He finds out on Wednesday ‘you might have to play’ and he has not taken a snap since early September when he broke his finger,” Swinney said. “He is in a much better place because he has had since last Wednesday to think about it, refocus and be in the meetings. And now, from the very beginning of the week, he has gotten all the reps and is much more engaged.”
Swinney said he is not afraid to put Batson in if he must.
“He is a good quarterback. He has been in the all meetings from the fall and all of that,” the Clemson coach said. “He can go out there and execute and do what we need him to do and then Hunter has had a good week too. We have been able to have a full week working him.”