Trevor Lawrence vs. Kelly Bryant QB Battle at Clemson Could Continue into Season

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2018

Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) is sacked by Alabama defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand (9) in the second half of the Sugar Bowl semi-final playoff game for the NCAA college football national championship, in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Despite leading Clemson to the College Football Playoff last season, Kelly Bryant's starting job at quarterback is not safe. 

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney told reporters the competition between Bryant, freshmen Trevor Lawrence and Chase Brice and sophomore Hunter Johnson could continue into the season. 

"Regardless of where we are today we've got a long way to go before we play in September, and no matter what happens in September I don't think the competition's just going to end," Swinney said. "I think we've got guys on the roster that are going to be driven each and every day to either be the guy or beat the guy out or make the guy better or whatever it may be."

Bryant, a senior, threw for 2,801 yards and 13 touchdowns against eight interceptions in 2017. He added 665 yards and 11 scores in the ground but struggled mightily in Clemson's CFP semifinal loss to Alabama.

Lawrence was the nation's No. 1 overall recruit in the 2018 class, per 247Sports. The 6'6" freshman got a near-perfect recruiting grade and made his early claim on the job in the spring game, throwing for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Swinney said it's possible he could use multiple quarterbacks during the regular season.

"It depends on how many balls they'll let me have. Maybe they'll let us have two huddles and two balls. That'd be a lot easier to figure out," Swinney said. "But it's exciting. We've got good players. We've got great young men. That's a position where we've got a high level of character, high level of intelligence. And they all want to be the guy. They've got good relationships with each other, so it's a real positive for our program."

Lawrence clearly has the highest upside of any of the players but is also the least experienced. Having him struggle early could wind up hampering his development; there's little reason to think he'll be anything less than a star with proper time to work. 

Bryant is probably the favorite at this juncture, but his leash is short. Don't be surprised if this winds up a situation where Bryant begins the season as the starter before Swinney rolls the dice on Lawrence at the first sign of trouble. 

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