With Bubba Chandler off to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and Will Taylor locked in as a Tiger, Clemson finally has a good idea what its quarterback room will look like when the Tigers begin camp in a few weeks.
Obviously, it starts with D.J. Uiagalelei, who is locked in as the starter to replace Trevor Lawrence. But who is Clemson’s backup is the number one question heading into fall camp?
Taisun Phommachanh was supposed to be the guy, and he likely will be before the 2021 season is complete, but right now he is out as he recovers from a torn Achilles he suffered in the final moments of the Spring Game on April 3.
As The Clemson Insider reported this past spring, the Tigers took a peak into the transfer portal for a possible backup, but it appears nothing ever came about it.
On May 27, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott told the ACC Network’s Packer & Durham Show that Phommachanh’s rehab is going well and they’re encouraged about where he is during the process.
“I anticipate at some point we will be able to move him back in and get some work out of him,” Elliott said. “We got some freshmen coming in that are highly recruited. We have a couple of walk-ons coming in. So, obviously, with Taisun going down in the spring game, it creates a little bit of anxiety, but as we progress and see kind of how he is progressing with his recovery, we feel good where we are at.”
But that does not help the Tigers now. Clemson likely will not get Phommachanh back until October at the earliest. That means Taylor, who the Texas Rangers drafted in the 19th round (554th pick) in Thursday’s MLB Draft, will be thrown into the mix in fall camp, despite the fact he just arrived at Clemson in June.
“Will Taylor is a state champion quarterback and is a great athlete,” head coach Dabo Swinney said back in the spring.”
Hunter Helms will likely start off the year as the backup quarterback. The former walk-on played some last season and had a good spring.
The coaches really like the way Helms competes. They think he has a chance to be someone they can count on, but as Swinney said after the Spring Game, “He is still a developing guy.”
After Helms and Taylor, the Tigers have walk-on Billy Wiles, a freshman who turned down Division I offers to join the team this summer.
Clemson will have to have Helms, Taylor and Wiles ready to play before the season starts. In 2016, ’17, ’18 and 2020, the Tigers had to turn to their backup quarterback to either finish or start a game.
It has happened five times since 2016 and Clemson is 3-2 in those five games in which the backup quarterback was forced to enter or start.
In other words, Clemson better have its backup quarterbacks ready.