Update: Aug. 21 – 9 p.m. ET
Dabo Swinney announced Monday night that it indeed will be Kelly Bryant starting for Clemson at quarterback for the season opener against Kent State. Redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper is the No. 2 quarterback and five-star true freshman Hunter Johnson will start the season third on the depth chart.
Clemson makes it official. Kelly Bryant has been named the starter. Cooper No. 2, Johnson No. 3.
— Grace Raynor (@gmraynor) August 22, 2017
Dabo tonight: Bryant named starter, Cooper "first off the bench," and Johnson "not far behind" Cooper
— Anna Hickey (@AnnaH247) August 22, 2017
Original story: Aug. 16 – 7 p.m. ET
It looks like Clemson has identified Deshaun Watson’s successor — for the season-opener, at least.
After practice Wednesday, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney told reporters that “unless something just totally goes crazy,” junior Kelly Bryant will start at quarterback when Clemson opens up against Kent State.
“All I can tell you is here’s where we are today. When we get in there and go play the game, unless something just goes backwards — which anything can happen, we’ve got got a long way to go … he’s probably going to be the guy to run out there,” Swinney said per The Post and Courier.
Swinney’s comment shouldn’t be much of a surprise. He’s been publicly pointing toward Bryant as the top option ahead of redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper and true freshman Hunter Johnson. Swinney said Bryant was “excellent” on Wednesday, but there’s still a chance Swinney will throw Cooper or Johnson into the game. Even both, perhaps.
“I think (Johnson and Cooper) are still right there. They both do some good things and then they both make a mistake that you just scratch your head,” Swinney said. “But they’re freshmen. And I understand that. We’ve just got to keep putting them in those situations.”
Facing Kent State, coming off a 3-9 record in 2016, gives Swinney a chance to get the quarterback position solidified ahead of difficult matchups against Auburn and Louisville in Weeks 2 and 3.
PODCAST: Pete Thamel on the Year of the QB
Bryant, a four-star recruit in 2015, was the No. 3 QB behind Watson and Nick Schuessler the last two years. Bryant has appeared in 11 games in his career, completing 13-of-18 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. He also has 178 yards and two scores rushing in his career.
Cooper redshirted in 2016 after signing as a four-star recruit. Johnson was an even higher-rated recruit, signing with the Tigers as a five-star recruit and the No. 18 overall prospect in the 2017 class per Rivals.com.
For more Clemson news, visit TigerIllustrated.com.
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