In the spring of last year, Clemson quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter brought Bubba Chandler — a talented multi-sport star from the Peach State — to Dabo Swinney’s attention.
“Street reached out to me back in the early spring,” Clemson’s head coach said during the program’s National Signing Day Show in December. “He said, ‘I got this guy,’ and he said, ‘I just want you to watch him.’ He said, ‘I really like him.’”
Swinney was likewise impressed after watching film of Chandler, a standout athlete from North Oconee High School (Bogart, Ga.) who plays quarterback in football, pitcher and shortstop in baseball, and started on the basketball team as a freshman and sophomore.
“Street does as good a job as anybody when it comes to evaluating his position, and I remember watching him and I was like, ‘He’s pretty good!’” Swinney said of Chandler. “And then I find out that, oh, by the way, he’s got a 90-something mile-an-hour fastball, he’s a .400-and-something hitter. I’m looking at basketball clips where he’s throwing basketballs down, and I’m like, you know what, this guy hasn’t even tapped into his full potential yet. And I love that because we all know it’s a developmental sport.”
Clemson safeties coach Mickey Conn — the former longtime head coach at Grayson High School (Loganville, Ga.) — tipped Streeter off about Chandler, whose head football coach at North Oconee, Tyler Aurandt, was at one time an assistant coach under Conn at Grayson.
“There’s usually connections somewhere, and that was the connection with Bubba and getting his tape out to me,” Streeter said during Clemson’s signing day show. “At the time, was committed to Georgia in baseball, and so he was kind of under the radar because he was baseball at that point. Watched the film, and like Coach (Swinney) said, just special, special talent.”
The Clemson football program extended a scholarship offer to Chandler last spring, and the rest is history.
After receiving the offer from the Tigers on May 7, Chandler de-committed from Georgia’s baseball program four days later and then committed to Clemson on May 20.
Chandler, who signed with Clemson on Dec. 16 during college football’s early signing period, will play both football and baseball for the Tigers.
“Ton of potential, and then he had an even better year this year,” Streeter said of Chandler’s senior football season, during which he threw for 1,842 yards and 18 touchdowns while also rushing for 548 yards and six scores en route to Region 8 4A Offensive Player of the Year honors.
“Just fun to watch. He’s got everything — he can run, he can throw, got a very talented arm, and then I was really sold whenever he showed us some videos of him throwing righthanded and lefthanded. So, we can roll (him) out either way and we’re going to be in good shape. But just really excited about this kid. He brings a lot to the table.”
A four-star prospect per ESPN, Chandler passed for 3,605 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushed for 983 yards and scored nine rushing touchdowns during his career at North Oconee.
On the diamond, Chandler batted .435 and struck out 16 in seven innings while playing baseball sparingly in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, he hit .356 as a shortstop and posted a 7-0 record as a pitcher with 55 strikeouts in 41.1 innings.
“I’m excited about Bubba and his potential,” Swinney said. “It’s going to be great for our baseball team as well. Coach (Monte) Lee, he’s pumped over there, and everybody pencils him as a pitcher because he’s a big-time pitcher. Literally, 90-plus mile-an-hour guy, maybe a Friday night-type starter for the baseball team. But he’ll be quick to remind you, he’s a hitter. He’ll let you know that real quick. Don’t put him in a box. He might pitch, but if he ain’t pitching, he’s going to be a DH guy because he can swing the stick.
“But man, he can spin the rock, too, and I think he has really embraced the idea and trusts us with having a plan to help him excel.”
Swinney believes Chandler, who is slated to enroll at Clemson this summer, could eventually face a tough choice when it comes to whether to pursue a future in football or baseball – similar to former Tiger two-sport standout Kyle Parker, who played both football and baseball in college before going on to be drafted in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies.
“He’s one of those guys that I think will have a decision to make one day, like a Kyler Murray, etcetera, a Kyle Parker. It could go either way,” Swinney said of Chandler. “But man, he fits a huge need for us, and just really excited… Man, Street did a great job of evaluating this young man.”