A look at Clemson’s 2021 Projected QB Depth Chart heading into fall camp
With Taisun Phommachanh still recovering from a torn Achilles, and 4-star prospect Bubba Chandler giving up football to pursue a professional career in baseball, Clemson’s quarterback situation is a little dicey heading into fall camp this year.
The good news is Clemson still has one of the top quarterbacks in the country in D.J. Uiagalelei, who many believe will be a Heisman Trophy candidate in his first season as a starting quarterback. However, with Phommachanh out, the Tigers do not have a ready-to-play backup quarterback.
Heading into camp, Uiagalelei will be backed up by a quarterback who was recruited to eventually be a wide receiver and two walk-ons. In other words, the Clemson coaches will have to do everything they can to keep Uiagalelei healthy until Phommachanh is ready to play.
D.J. Uiagalelei, So., 6-4, 250: As a true freshman, Uiagalelei played very well in the two games Trevor Lawrence missed due to COVID-19, leading the Tigers to the greatest come-from-behind victory at Death Valley in school history, as he rallied Clemson from an 18-point deficit to beat Boston College, 34-28 on Oct. 31. A week later, even in a loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, he played great, throwing for 439 yards, the most ever against an Irish defense. He nearly willed an outmanned Clemson team to victory in a double-overtime defeat. In his two starts, Uiagalelei played nearly flawless, completing 59-of-85 passes (69.4 percent) for 781 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for two scores, including a 30-yard touchdown run against Boston College. In the Spring Game, he completed 20-of-28 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown.
Hunter Helms, *Fr., 6-1, 210: A walk-on, Helms impressed with a two-touchdown performance at Georgia Tech as a true freshman. He enters 2021 having completed 9-of-12 passes for 77 yards and two scores after playing in three games last year.
Will Taylor, Fr., 5-10, 175: Though he was picked in the 19th round of the MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers (554 overall) earlier this week, Taylor is locked in with Tigers and will likely enter fall camp as the third string quarterback, though Clemson eventually wants to transition him to wide receiver during his career. Taylor has the credentials as a quarterback, but he is not built to be a college quarterback, especially right now as a true freshman. However, he did lead Dutch Fork (Irmo, S.C.) to the Class 5A State Championship last year, while putting up good numbers. With Bubba Chandler leaving Clemson for professional baseball and Taisun Phommachanh still rehabbing from a torn Achilles in the Spring Game, the Tigers have no choice but to get Taylor ready for the start of the season.
Billy Wiles, Fr., 6-3, 215: Wiles is a preferred walk-on from Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia. He turned down offers from Maryland and Tulane to walk-on at Clemson. He was a 3-star prospect and had a rating of .814 according to the 247Sports Composite. He is a pro-style quarterback. The 2020 high school football season in the state of Virginia was postponed until the spring, but Wiles threw for 2,481 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior in 2019, while leading his Stone Bridge team to a 12-2 record and appearance in the Class 5 state title game.
**Taisun Phommachanh, *So., 6-3, 220: Phommachanh is sill recovering from his torn Achilles from the Spring Game. The hope is he will be able to be back at some point this season, but there is currently no official timetable for his return. Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott did report earlier this summer that Phommachanh’s recovery is going better than expected. Before getting hurt, he completed 14-of-25 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown in the Spring Game, including 9-of-11 for 123 yards in the fourth quarter. He enters 2021 having completed 11-of-29 career passes for 73 yards and having rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries in seven career games. Last year, he completed 5-of-17 passes for 17 yards and rushed seven times for 25 yards in 43 snaps over four games. In 2019, he played in three games while redshirting, completing 6-of-12 passes for 56 yards and rushing for 56 yards on 12 carries.
Note: **indicates injured; *indicates redshirt
––Clemson Athletic Communications contributed to this story