There has been plenty of talk about Clemson’s quarterback battle since the departure of one of the most legendary quarterbacks in Clemson Football history. Tajh Boyd was an incredible team leader that gained the respect of many in his time at Clemson, so there were valid concerns regarding who would be able to fill the large void left by his absence.
Cole Stoudt (6-foot-4, 210-pounds) Sr.
Although the decision was not clear at first, Cole Stoudt emerged as the clear front-runner of the quarterback competition and was named as the 2014 starter soon after the Spring Game. Early on, there weren’t many questions about the decision to make Stoudt the new team leader since he has been patiently waiting his turn after being the backup to Boyd for years. He has gained full respect from his teammates in his time as the backup, and has been defined as level headed and calm. Those are the types of qualities that make a good leader. However, some people still have concerns regarding his ability to perform well against top competitors like Georgia and Florida State. The true test of his ability to lead the team will come in the season opener at Sanford Stadium.
In his career at Clemson, Stoudt has played in 22 games and has completed 72.3% of his passes. His passing efficiency rating is 145.1, which is the second best in Clemson’s history. Rivals ranked him as the #21 quarterback in the nation in high school, but he came to Clemson when the quarterback position was solid. Throughout his time as the backup, he was given opportunities to prove his talents, and each time he showed that he was a steady and consistent player. He has also had three years of learning and immersing himself in how offensive coach coordinator Chad Morris’ runs his offense. That is experience that Boyd didn’t even have going into his first year as starter.
Deshaun Watson (6-foot-3, 190-pounds) Fr.
True freshman Deshaun Watson is a big name on campus as he was a five-star, #1 dual threat quarterback recruit. There are high expectations for Watson to take over the starting role when Stoudt graduates, but some people are predicting that he could take over the team much sooner than that. Watson was not able to play in the spring game due to a collarbone injury, but was counted on by Morris to make calls from the sideline. He has since recovered from his injury and impressed the coaches and fellow teammates.
Recently, ESPN’s Tom Luginbill has named Watson as the #1 future star in college football. This is an exciting ranking since Watson is the future of the Clemson Football offense. It also means that he will most definitely be getting playing time this season as he prepares to take on the leadership role in the future. He has even been mentioned to play in the season opener, but the extent has not ben determined. Watson is also no stranger to the ‘smash-mouth spread’ that Morris is fond of. His high school ran similar plays to the ones he will be expected to complete in this Clemson career, so he has that added layer of comfort and experience. Since Watson is a dual threat quarterback, he can run. He will be playing early on, and he may even play on the field at the same time as Stoudt. However, he will have to prove himself in a real game setting to become the starter over Stoudt. It is unlikely that Watson will start over Stoudt unless Stoudt is playing poorly. As long as Clemson is winning, Stoudt will remain as the starter regardless of what Watson does, but Clemson fans will definitely be seeing the true freshman on the field to some degree.