College football: Coffman grad Cole Stoudt’s hold on Clemson QB job will be tested

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s focus at the start of fall camp is again on its quarterbacks, though for a different reason than in the previous two seasons.

Back then, it was seeing how far record-breaking passer Tajh Boyd could lead the Tigers. Now, it’s about who will follow Boyd behind center and to see if he can keep Clemson’s high-energy offense on the move.

Senior Cole Stoudt won the job in the spring after spending the past three seasons as Boyd’s backup. The Dublin Coffman graduate will be pressured by freshman Deshaun Watson, one of the country’s top prep prospects, who accounted for Georgia state marks with 17,134 yards and 218 touchdowns.

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said that Stoudt has earned the chance to start the opener on

Aug. 30 at Georgia, but he must keep progressing this fall or risk getting jumped.

“What if he goes out there and stinks it up the next two weeks?” Swinney said at the start of camp on Friday. “We’re not going to reward a guy for that.”

But Swinney is confident that won’t happen.

Stoudt was tutored early on by his father, former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, and has shown a tall, strong presence in the pocket when given the chance. That wasn’t often the past three years behind the durable Boyd, who finished his career as Clemson’s career leader in passing yards, completions and touchdowns, among dozens of records.

One longevity mark Boyd doesn’t hold belongs to Stoudt — interception avoidance. Stoudt has thrown just one interception in 119 career passes.

The starting job wasn’t handed to him as the next in line, Swinney said.

“He has a sense of urgency to be the guy,” the coach said.

That was apparent in workouts when Stoudt couldn’t match the rocket arm of Watson on a cock-the-shoulder-and-fire drill. When offensive coordinator Chad Morris called out Stoudt as the winner on the third go-round, the senior let out a loud “Yeah!”

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