August 17, 2009

Caroline's Tiger Pause - Who will be Clemson's starting quarterback?

Dabo Swinney has said that there may be only 10 quarterbacks in the NFL that possess Kyle Parker's arm strength--he has a cannon. Willy Korn is the most prolific quarterback in South Carolina High School history. Tajh Boyd led Phoebus High School to its' second state championship in a row and was the Co-MVP of the Army All American game with a torn ACL.

It is a suffice it to say we have never had this much talent at Quarterback in the history of Clemson football, but it also leads to the biggest question of the 2009 season--who will be Clemson's starting quarterback?

I get a chuckle because so many people on message boards worry themselves silly over having too much talent at qb--how can we play them all? What if one transfers? I say enjoy it--enjoy every second of the mystery of who our starter will be and how we will work out playing time for all of the guys. I think one reason that I am able to enjoy it is because I believe in the talent of these young men and I believe our coaches are going to use all of this talent to our benefit.

All of these quarterbacks were ranked in the top 5 in their position out of high school. All three of them played in either the Army All-American game or the Under Armour All American game out of high school. Willy and Kyle both enrolled in school early and perhaps even more impressive was Tajh Boyd this spring. While he did not enroll early, his high school was on the quarter system and he graduated in March. He and his family moved to Seneca and he went to every single practice, positon meeting, and film study this spring no matter what time of day. He didn't have to be there but he was. All of these young men are hard workers and great leaders.

I will always have a soft spot for Willy Korn. Few players have ever worked so hard for Clemson. He committed to Clemson his sophomore year of high school and has been recruiting for us ever since. He has worked so hard to get great players to come to Clemson. He is incredibly unselfish and a wonderful teammate. Tajh Boyd has said that Willy has been like a big brother to him since the moment he stepped on campus--keep in mind this is his competitor for the starting job. In addition to being a great person Willy Korn is honestly the best high school football player I have ever watched in person. Even as a teenager he posessed every intangible you dream of in a quarterback--high football iq, tremendous leadership, poise, and he is a gamer. He just has this swagger and confidence to him, something that has been lagging in Clemson QBs since Woody Dantzler. While Willy does not have Kyle's arm strength he is the more accurate of the two, and he is also a terrific runner. Shoulder injuries have hampered Korn his first two seasons, but he has made great strides since his last surgery.

If you listen to the rumors coming out of preseason camp, the front runner right now is Kyle Parker. There has never been a QB at Clemson with the arm strength that he has. He also has been impressive and shown a great deal of composure being a dual sport athlete at Clemson. Many are worried that he will leave for Major League Baseball as early as this year, but I do not see him going high enough in the draft yet for that to be an issue. I think he will be around at least through his senior baseball season. He is certainly a young and exciting player and for the first time in his career he was able to concentrate exclusively on football this summer. The extra time has paid dividends, by all accounts he has made tremendous strides this summer. I can't wait to watch him in a live game situation.

Tajh Boyd is chomping at the bit to get on the field as well. While the competion is primarily between Willy and Kyle this year, he is doing everything he can to make it a three man race. He has all of the intangibles and is incredibly tough. Early on I believed we would red shirt him because of the depth at the QB position and the fact that he is just a few months removed from ACL surgery. However, his rehab is ahead of schedule and by all accounts he might be too good to keep off the field. His second day of practice he connected on a 66 yard TD to TE Dwayne Allen, and he already talks like a veteran. He is going to be incredibly fun to watch the next 4 years at Clemson.

So who is going to start September 5th? If the Quarterback race remains as tight as it is, without a great deal of separation I feel like we kind of owe it to Willy. No offence to Middle Tennessee State, but they are not exactly a behemoth in college football. Give both Kyle and Willy plenty of playing time in a live game situation and I think the starter will emerge. I do think no matter who the starter is this season they will both get playing time in every game. I do not think we will run a true two quarterback system, but why wouldn't you let them both on the field? It is harder for defenses to game plan for two quarterbacks; why not make it as difficult as possible? I also believe our coaching staff is going to play the best player. If one is struggling he is going to be benched. I think the coaches are really using all of this competition to our advantage. And I have no doubt at all that Tajh is going to be working hard to make an appearance on the field. Part of the fun in the 2009 preseason has been all of the mystery surrounding the 2009 Clemson Tigers and the biggest question of all is surrounding our quarterbacks. I look forward to watching it answered.

There was a big scrimmage on Saturday -- we will learn a lot from that. We are also lucky to have another great backup in Michael Wade and we are sure to see plenty of him on the field in other duties.

UPDATE: Looks like Saturday's practice did determine a lot - Dabo has picked Kyle Parker to play starting quarterback, but Willy will still get to play some as well.

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Unknown said...

An inside source tells me Kyle will be the starter. I was so looking forward to Korn starting, but I don't think it's going to happen this year, although, he will get his time to shine! He will definately get to play this season, but looks like Kyle has won the starting position.

Meredith said...

Great article Caroline - way to keep us informed!

Erin said...

I love this article! Thanks, Caroline!

Andrea said...

Yay Caroline - awesome article!

carolineb said...

Kyle is definately the starter--congratulations! It will be exciting to see what he brings to the '09 Tigers. I still think we will see Willy play quite a bit and I still think that competition is a great thing:) Thanks for the comments ladies!!

Anonymous said...

You gals are in for a rude awakening. Middle Tennessee is a very good team. They beat Maryland last year and lost to Kentucky by one yard-- watch it on YouTube.

If Clemson wins, it will be by lesss than 2 touchdowns.

carolineb said...

Mid Tennessee is scrappy, but they are taking a lot of hits in practices. They have lost 3 starters and there is a solid distance in talent between the 2 squads. This is also the home opener and I think it will be a big statement game for Clemson. They did trip up Maryland and played Kentucky tight--I am not saying we will win by 50 but I do think we will win comfortably. In addition MTSU is breaking in a new qb--I realize we are as well but Parker isnt having to face our d-line or our corners. I think MTSU has a good chance of winning their conference but I dont think they stand a chance in the Valley September 5th.

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