Cade Klubnik is ready to make his leap of faith.
After throwing for three touchdowns during the 2022 All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Saturday, Clemson’s five-star quarterback signee received the All-American Bowl’s Player of the Year Award.
“It was just so fun to be around that type of competition and just be surrounded by those people and build new relationships,” Klubnik told The Clemson Insider in a phone interview Saturday night. “It was such an honor and I’m just so thankful for the people who helped pave the way and helped me along my journey. I’m just ready for my next chapter now.”
Klubnik will be at the airport bright and early Sunday morning as he embarks on his new journey. He’ll be enrolling early and officially moving into his new home away from home.
“I’m so excited. I feel like just yesterday I was getting started at Westlake,” he said. “Just trying to soak in every moment that I’m there. I’m so excited. I’m pumped.”
Clemson’s early enrollees have orientation all day Sunday and move-in is later in the day. It’s comforting for Klubnik that he won’t be the only Clemson class of 2022 signee enrolling early. Nine members of Clemson’s “Dandy Dozen” will be moving in on Sunday.
“I already have such great relationships with really everybody that we have signed and are coming in,” he said. “I think that’s what makes Clemson so special is just the relationships that are there. I don’t think there’s a tighter group of guys coming into a school as freshmen than this class right now. We’re all so close and just ready to get to work.”
Klubnik, of course, will be rooming with Myrtle Beach (S.C.) four-star wide receiver Adam Randall.
“I couldn’t imagine just getting to spend the next year and a half with anybody else,” Klubnik said. “I mean, we FaceTime probably 2 or 3 times a week. I was on FaceTime on Wednesday and Thursday for an hour and a half with him just talking. I’m so excited to be able to room with him and just spend that time with him.”
He’s ready to come in and compete with Clemson’s incumbent starter D.J. Uiagalelei. Klubnik views it as an opportunity to learn the ropes and nuances of Brandon Streeter’s offense from a seasoned veteran like Uiagalelei.
“I’m so excited,” he said. “D.J. ‘s such a great guy, so to be able to sit under him, learn from and soak it up will be so awesome.”
In addition to Uiagalelei, Klubnik has been in contact with quarterbacks Hunter Helms and Billy Wiles, both of whom were recently placed on scholarship, as well as Will Taylor.
He also has a relationship with freshman safety Andrew Mukuba, who is an Austin native himself and played his high school football at LBJ Early College High School.
“I was actually just texting him earlier [Saturday],” Klubnik said, “just after the year he just had, I’m super pumped for him. My best friend used to go to LBJ and now he’s at Westlake and he was also my backup this year. He’s like my best friend and he just had nothing but high things to say about Andrew. Just from the conversations that I’ve had with him, he seems like such a welcoming and genuine person.”
What is Klubnik looking forward to the most about moving to Clemson?
“I would just say building new relationships and just getting plugged in,” he said, “and just getting to work. I’m ready to get back on the grind and ready to get back after it.”
Klubnik has been to Clemson 4 or 5 times, so he feels like he’s kind of already hit all the big places to eat. However, the one that he still needs to go to that he hasn’t been to yet is The Smokin’ Pig.
We’ll have to see how it compares to the BBQ in Austin, though.
With that being said, what is he going to miss the most about Texas?
“Man, there’s a lot of things,” Klubnik said. “I just think the relationships that I’ve built here just take over everything. Just the friendships, the Brothers in Christ that I’ve been able to make and just the people that are here just so awesome. It reminds me so much of Clemson. I think I’ll miss that most. And my coaches [at Westlake], but also my teammates and my mentors that I’m having to leave. That’s definitely pretty hard.”
As a senior in 2021, despite missing three games with an injury, Klubnik completed 71.3 percent of his passes for 3,251 yards and 43 touchdowns against just three interceptions as the Chaps finished the year 16-0. He also rushed 70 times for 465 yards and 12 scores.
He leaves Westlake — a program that’s seen the likes of Drew Brees, Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger go through its doors — as the school’s all-time leader in career passing yards and touchdown passes.
“On a more fun note, definitely just gonna miss my mom’s cooking because she’s such a good cook,” Klubnik added. “She cooks probably five days out of the week, so I’m definitely gonna miss that and Mexican food. Because I asked somebody if they had any good Mexican food places in Clemson and their first response was, ‘Have you heard of Chipotle?’ I will probably miss that.”
Going to college can be a daunting task, but Klubnik has never wavered in his belief that playing for Dabo Swinney at Clemson is where he’s meant to be.
“You look at Coach Swinney, you look at what he’s done and I just can’t imagine not wanting to go play for that guy,” he said. “Just what he’s done with quarterbacks and so many players on the field. Just his goal by the end of the four years is the man that he wants for you to leave as. That’s the type of coach that I’m just so excited to get to hang out with and spend so many hours with. I’m just so excited for that.”