Early expectations for Klubnik ‘no different’ from other top Clemson QBs

Dabo Swinney is no stranger to incorporating highly touted quarterbacks into his program.

DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson’s current starter, was a five-star prospect emerging from the California prep ranks in the Tigers’ 2020 recruiting class. His predecessor, Trevor Lawrence, was a former No. 1 overall rookie who went on to be the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Before that, there was Deshaun Watson, another top rookie turned pick first round. Even Hunter Johnson, who left for Northwestern once Lawrence finally won the job in 2018 and has since transferred, was a five-star hit back then.

Welcome to the club, Cade Klubnik.

Ranked the No. 1 high school quarterback for the 2022 recruiting round in the 247Sports Composite, Klubnik was the crown jewel of Clemson’s latest signing. And while his college career is in the exploration stage — the 6-foot-2, 185-pound did his first practice at Clemson on Wednesday — he’s starting early as a similarly Watson midyear enrollee, Lawrence and Uiagalelei did.

Swinney said that was just a set of short-term expectations this spring for his latest prize caller.

“He’s expected to come here and he’s the guy we brought in,” Swinney said. “He’s a leader, he’s a meticulous preparer, he takes to the field with great preparation day in and day out, he learns from his mistakes and he improves as he goes. That was Deshaun’s expectation. It was Trevor’s wait and DJ No different’s wait So show up and let’s see where he is.

Watson, Lawrence and Uiagalelei all started multiple games in their true freshman seasons, although Uiagalelei made both of his starts in 2020 out of need after Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19 during that season. Whether Klubnik does the same remains to be seen.

But Swinney said he brought back Johnson, who played just 11 games in three seasons at Northwestern, mainly to bring depth to a position where former extras Hunter Helms and Billy Wiles are the only other scholarship options. . Klubnik is therefore probably the most realistic threat to create competition for Uiagalelei, who had an inconsistent first season as a full-time Clemson starter that included more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes (9).

While Uiagalelei, who opened the spring at a slimmer 240 pounds, needs to be better, Swinney again reiterated that the supporting cast around him also need to pick up their game.

“I’ve never had a young quarterback who didn’t make mistakes,” Swinney said. “The difference between Deshaun and Trevor was that DJ mistakes were amplified. We weren’t as good with him as we were with those other two guys.

Still, Klubnik’s progress this spring is worth watching. Johnson won’t be back on campus until the summer, so Klubnik will quickly be thrown into the fire. He took some rehearsals with Uiagalelei on Wednesday.

“The good news is he’s going to get a lot of reps,” Swinney said. “So from the start here, he will have a ton of work. I’m glad to see him on the pitch. »

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