Clemson didn’t get the production at the quarterback position in 2021 that they have become accustomed to over the past several years. After shining in two spot starts as a freshman, DJ Uiagalelei was wildly inconsistent in his first season as the fulltime starter.
That inconsistency made the Tigers lack of depth that much more noticeable. Behind Uiagalelei, there was just Taisun Phommachanh, who was coming off a torn Achilles in the spring, and Hunter Helms and Billy Wiles, both of whom entered the program as walk on’s.
With the news of Phommachanh’s intentions to transfer, those issues could be an issue in 2022 as well. Clemson likes to carry four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, and unless something changes between now and the start of next season, they will have just three.
DJ Uiagalelei: After the lack of success in 2021, Uiagalelei has a very important offseason ahead of him. Uiagalelei will be entering his third season and the Tigers absolutely have to get more out of their quarterback in 2022.
Cade Klubnik: A five-star, who is enrolling in January and a guy that is already having a ton of expectations placed upon his shoulders after the play of Uiagalelei this season. There is no guarantee that he will even be ready to play day one and there are many that have already anointed Klubnik as the starter. At the very least, his presence should elevate the play of Uiagalelei. Competition makes everyone better and Uiagalelei had none this season.
Hunter Helms: After taking a redshirt in 2020, the former walk on will also be entering his third season. Helms will be on scholarship in 2022.
Billy Wiles (Walk On): Made one appearance against UConn as a freshman, meaning 2021 will be a redshirt season.
As you can see, as it stands, the Tigers are looking at once again being short a scholarship quarterback entering next season. Phommachanh’s decision to transfer isn’t all that surprising. He’s been at Clemson three years now and if he wants to play it will have to be somewhere else. There is no way the coaching staff didn’t know this was coming.
What happens next spring could go a long way towards determining what the staff decides to do at this position. The play of Uiagalelei and exactly how ready Klubnik is, not only mentally, but physically, could ultimately determine whether an experienced transfer is brought in to help with depth and provide another quality arm.
While some believe Dabo Swinney is dead set against using the portal, that’s just not true. He has said so on many occasions. He just prefers not to do so. There is no way Swinney willingly goes into next season with as few options as the Tigers had in 2021.
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