Can Kelly Bryant hold off Trevor Lawrence, and lead the Tigers to a title?
These are really two questions, but they go hand-in-hand. Kelly Bryant beat out true freshman Hunter Johnson and Zerrick Cooper last year and won the right to step into the starting quarterback role left when Deshaun Watson jumped to the NFL in 2017. Bryant displayed an ability to make plays with his arm and his feet, and though he wasn’t as smooth as Watson and dealt with injury concerns during the season, the Tigers performed well enough under his direction to win the ACC and make it back to the College Football Playoff.
Bryant completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions and scored 11 rushing touchdowns while leading the team with 854 rushing yards and averaging a solid 5.1 yards per carry when factoring out the 27 sacks he took. In short, Bryant was an effective starter. Of course, there’s always room for improvement
Cooper decided to transfer, but Johnson is set to compete again for the starting job this spring and fall. However, the bigger challenge is expected to come from true freshman Trevor Lawrence, who signed with Clemson as the No. 1 overall player in the 247Sports Composite. Lawrence has special talent, and if last year’s national championship game is any indication, true freshmen quarterbacks are no longer the concern they once were – at least those that come in ranked among the nation’s best.
Bryant has experience on his side, and he showed a great deal of playmaking ability in his first season as a starter. But the Tigers have national title expectations, so Bryant will need to be even better to keep his job this fall.