Dabo Swinney dropped a hint that Clemson could move off quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei in favor of true freshman Cade Klubnik at some point during the 2022 college football season.
Despite blowing out the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta on Labor Day evening, Dabo Swinney did not close the door on the ongoing Clemson Tigers quarterback battle just yet…
While this is D.J. Uiagalelei’s third year in the program, he has not exactly taken full control of the offense like Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson did before him. Clemson did add another five-star passer out of high school this past cycle in Cade Klubnik from Austin. Although Hunter Johnson is a former five-star too, we are all wondering if Klubnik will eventually usurp Uiagalelei.
Here is what Swinney had to say about it all while appearing on The Rich Eisen Show Thursday.
“We’ve got three five-star quarterbacks in our room,” said Swinney on The Rich Eisen Show. “D.J. [Uiagalelei] has earned the right to be the starter without question, but Cade [Klubnik] has demonstrated that he can win for us, based on what we have seen in practice and he finally got a little game experience. He certainly proved that he deserves the opportunity to play within the flow of the game or the season as we go.”
What Swinney said initially was fine and all, but his next comment may have tipped his hand a bit.
“Nobody has a lifetime contract in college football,” followed up Swinney. “You’ve gotta show up every week and prove it, earn it. I don’t think we are any different than a lot of places out there. We are very fortunate. We have very good players. D.J. is a very talented young man and did a lot of good things last week, especially in the second half. And getting Cade in there was a blessing, too.”
The “nobody has a lifetime contract in college football” snippet was the juicy part of his comment to Eisen about the Clemson quarterback room. Keep in mind Swinney famously made the switch from Kelly Bryant to Lawrence during the latter’s true freshman season in 2018. Clemson went on to win the College Football Playoff that campaign. The Tigers have failed to match that mark since.
Here is the clip of Swinney speaking with Eisen about Clemson on Thursday’s episode of the show.
Dabo Swinney does not rule out a quarterback change coming at Clemson soon
Overall, Clemson is in a good spot when it comes to its quarterback room. Many people expect last season to have been merely an anomaly and nothing more. The Tigers are the favorite to win the ACC. In doing so, they should be back in the College Football Playoff, assuming they have one or fewer losses on the year. Of course, they play in the same division as NC State and Wake Forest…
A loss to either division rival would certainly complicate things for the Tigers. It would probably bring to light how devastating it was to lose both Tony Elliott and Brent Venables to Power Five head-coaching gigs this past offseason. Of course, Clemson is loaded along the defensive line, which will play a big part in the Tigers presumably running roughshod over the rest of the ACC.
Although Johnson is merely a glorified third-stringer and nothing more at this point of his college career, Swinney may be left with no choice but to make the switch at quarterback from Uiagalelei to Klubnik. Simply put, Uiagalelei has to show improvement as a dual-threat playmaker in this system to keep on being the starter. Otherwise, we need to see what Klubnik can do for the team.
Don’t think for a second Swinney won’t do it, as he has done this before and he could do it again.
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