The three-man quarterback battle at Clemson is now down to one.
In a phone conversation Tuesday morning, head coach Dabo Swinney told Fox Sports that Cole Stoudt will officially be named the starter when he addresses his team at a meeting next Monday morning.
"It should be pretty obvious that he won the job,” Swinney said. “He’s a great leader who is highly respected by his teammates. He never once complained. He was always ready when we needed him. He’s earned it and he will be named the starter."
The quarterback competition was between Stoudt, who backed up Tajh Boyd backup last season, Chad Kelly (third string in 2013) and dynamic true freshman Deshaun Watson. But Swinney dismissed Kelly from the program on Monday for "conduct detrimental to our program," and Watson recently suffered a collarbone injury that kept him out of the spring game.
While Watson will continue to learn the system and develop into the quarterback of Clemson’s future, it is Stoudt who will take the reins to begin 2014.
I was at Clemson’s spring game last weekend, where Stoudt stood out, and here are a few positive attributes that caught my attention:
1. Physical abilities
At 6-foot-5, Stoudt stands tall in the pocket and has great vision of the field. His height alone sometimes allows him to have passing lanes that shorter quarterbacks may not have.
Stoudt also has the ability to be a weapon on the ground as well. While Clemson ran the ball on only about one-third of its snaps last year, the read option is one of offensive coordinator Chad Morris’ most potent tactics. The Tigers have a run-first mentality on offense, using the run game to set up the pass, and that will be enhanced with Stoudt.
“The thing that people might not realize about Cole is that he actually runs better than Tajh,” Swinney told me. “He may be tall and appear to be a bit gangly, but he can run really well.”
Stoudt’s accuracy in the spring game was impressive. He went 15 of 23 passing, despite the pressure from an aggressive pass rush and having extremely small windows in which to hit receivers.
He can hit the deep dig. He can hit the honey hole versus Cover 2 — the sweet spot on the sideline between the corner sinking back and the safety over the top.
3. Good decision-making
Stoudt showed the ability to make great decisions, which comes from an in-depth understanding of Morris’ offense. While Clemson didn’t show many elaborate schemes or coverages in the spring game, Stoudt was quick to analyze the defense and determine which coverage it was playing. He displayed the ability to know if, when and where a wide receiver will be open based on what the defense showed him.
"The thing I like about Cole is that he’s very disciplined,” Swinney said. “He lives by the motto that, ‘You don’t ever go broke by making a profit.’ If it’s just a simple check down that the defense will give him, he will take it. He doesn’t force anything, he’ll just keep moving the chains.”
Swinney noted that unfortunately for Stoudt, he had to be a reserve for his first three seasons at Clemson and is now left with only one remaining year of eligibility. “But it has prepared him,” Swinney said. “He’s a little bit of a gamer, too.”
There’s no more waiting for Stoudt or Clemson fans now – they know who will be leading the Tigers into Athens, Ga., to face the Bulldogs on Aug. 30.
Coy Wire played college football at Stanford before a nine-year NFL career in Buffalo and Atlanta. He’s currently a college football analyst for FOX Sports 1 and writes for FOXsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @CoyWire.