Might Clemson explore the transfer portal for another QB?

Might Clemson explore the transfer portal for another QB?

Football

Might Clemson explore the transfer portal for another QB?

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Brandon Streeter stated the obvious regarding the group he’s now in charge of running.

“This is D.J.’s offense right now,” Clemson’s new offensive coordinator said Saturday, referencing quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei.

But what about when it’s not?

Uiagalelei has started every game for the Tigers during a season that will conclude Dec. 29 in Orlando with a Cheez-It Bowl matchup against Iowa State. But Clemson’s sophomore signal caller has had to fight through some erratic play as well as a sprained right knee to do so.

With Taisun Phommachanh’s decision to enter the transfer portal earlier this month, Clemson’s options behind Uiagalelei at the position are even less experienced than before. Sophomore Hunter Helms and freshman Billy Wiles — two walk-ons whom Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said will soon be put on scholarship — have combined to play just 59 snaps at Clemson. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ only other scholarship quarterback for next season, Westlake (Texas) High standout Cade Klubnik, won’t officially join the team until next month.

What’s left at quarterback for the time being means there’s a real chance Klubnik, a five-star signee, goes into the 2022 season as Uiagalelei’s backup with no game reps at the collegiate level. Clemson could scour the transfer portal for a more experienced insurance policy at the position — something the Tigers have already started doing at other positions — but will they with already four quarterbacks on scholarship for next season?

“That’s a good question,” said Streeter, who recently had offensive coordinator added to his title in addition to quarterbacks coach following Tony Elliott’s departure for Virginia. “I think right now it’s a situation where we’re going to evaluate every semester what we really, really need and how we would approach that. Right now, we’re not interested in doing that at my position. I think the guys that we have here, that’s what we’re here for is to get them better and better. I know the numbers might not match every year, but in today’s age, to have five guys on scholarship, it’s like good luck trying to figure that out.

“We do feel really, really good about where we’re at with our situation, especially with the two young kids, Hunter Helms and Billy Wiles, coming on, too. Obviously (the topic of adding a transfer quarterback) comes up, but it hasn’t been a long discussion. I love that about our program. It’s a program that is loyal to the players, and we talk about earning the right to play and get your reps and earning the right to win. So as long as we can hold that, we’re going to try to. And it’s going to be hard sometimes, but right now, we’re not looking into that portal for my position.”

As for Klubnik, he’ll join the quarterback competition in the spring as a mid-year enrollee. The 6-foot-3, 186-pounder is ranked as the nation’s top quarterback recruit and No. 18 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite.

Asked if he realistically expects Klubnik to push Uiagalelei for the starting job as a true freshman, Streeter didn’t rule anything out.

“I’ll tell you what, he’s going to come in and compete like all the other guys are, too,” Streeter said. “It’s going to be the same thing with (Helms and Wiles). They’re still raw, too, and they’re still learning every single day. Cade’s going to come in, and we’ve got to see what he’s about. We’ve got to see what he’s about early on.

“Any time you bring in a kid like the caliber of Cade, it’s going to make the whole room better. That’s what I take pride in with my group is that these guys push each other. And it’s nothing against each other. We’re competing and we’re making each other better. They’re all pulling for each other, so it’s going to be an iron-sharpening-iron situation. I’m excited about it.”

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