When Garrett Riley initially arrived in Clemson following his hire as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator last month, one of the first people to greet him was his quarterback.
Riley, a Texas native who spent the last two seasons as TCU’s play caller, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rib Cade Klubnik, who played his high school football in the Lone Star State.
“I kind of joked with him because I’d recruited Cade for about the last three years before he came to Clemson,” Riley said during Clemson’s National Signing Day show Wednesday. “So I said, ‘Well I didn’t know I had to come to South Carolina to coach you.’”
On a serious note, Riley knows a thing or two about high-caliber quarterback play, which is why he said he’s glad he finally gets to work with the former five-star signal caller, who took over as Clemson’s starter in the Orange Bowl. Klubnik played in 10 games as a true freshman, completing 61% of his passes with more interceptions (3) than touchdown passes (2).
But he also flashed true dual-threat abilities at times that made him a five-star prospect coming out of Austin’s Westlake High. Riley is intimately familiar with Klubnik’s game having watched him up close on the recruiting circuit and believes Klubnik is tailor made for his system.
“He’s certainly a great player,” Riley said. “Know a lot about him. There’s certainly a lot of history seeing him throughout his high school career at Westlake. He’s certainly great piece to work with. I feel like I know the kid and know what his strengths are. His skill set, his demeanor and his intangibles I think are going to fit very well with what we do.”
As Clemson’s quarterbacks coach, Riley will be working closely with Klubnik the same way he did with Max Duggan the last two seasons. Duggan ended his TCU career this past season as the recipient of the Davey O’Brien Award, which goes annually to college football’s best quarterback.
Ultimately, Riley said, he wants consistency out of Klubnik and the rest of the Tigers’ quarterbacks.
“If you can make it simple for them and they make routine decisions at a high rate, most of the time, they’re probably going to make routine plays,” Riley said. “I think with his background, the way he’s been coached and coming from a winning culture in high school growing up, just all those things are right there for him. That’s what’s going to be exciting is to kind of work through those things with him in this system and put him in those positions to allow his playmakers to make plays.”
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