As the summer begins and most of the world is hard at work or heading to their favorite vacation spots. The Clemson football team is on campus in midst of summer "voluntary workouts". A summer ritual that has them up early every morning and hitting the weights and conditioning drills they need to build the strength and stamina to sustain a long and tough college football season.
This year Clemson finds itself in a rare position and in midst of a " QB Battle" as incumbent starter Kelly Bryant looks to be challenged by incoming and much heralded freshman Trevor Lawrence.
Bryant, who had to come in and fill the shoes of Deshaun Watson on the heels of a dream National Championship season. In 2017 Bryant only led his team to another ACC Title and a top seed in the College Football Playoff's in year one as a starter. Lawrence comes in as the all time leading high school career Quarterback in the state of Georgia. Having overtaken the same Deshaun Watson in many statistical categories. Both players ironically following Deshaun Watson in their careers in one way or another.
Lawrence, who enrolled back in December after the early signing period and has already spent the past 7 months in Tiger-town acclimating to the college life. Adjusting to the schedule academically and athletically. Trevor performed well enough in spring practice and the spring game that fellow five star Hunter Johnson decided that there was not enough room on the roster and decided to move on ultimately transferred to Northwestern.
Bryant who has fought off skepticism since before his even being offered by the Tigers as senior at nearby Wren High School, has again found himself in the media and fanbases eyes as this challenge from the freshman will again put Bryant in an position to compete for a job he already won a year ago. Nothing new to the 6'2 dual threat veteran.
With Lawrence you get a player that comes in already with a advanced skill set and the advantage of being seasoned and experienced after 4 years as a starter with 2 state titles. It is not a secret that Trevor comes in with a higher ceiling and more advanced skillset than did Kelly as he arrived 3 years ago, just 2 years removed from running an option offense at Abbeville High School (Abbeville, SC). It took a lot time and training to get Bryant ready to even be considered a College ready QB. But the work was put in . . . and the results have shown up on the turf inside Clemson's Death Valley and on playing surfaces all over the ACC and College Football. Bryant has proven his worth on the gridiron and has seasoned himself with 13 wins and an appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Lawrence of course is the unknown commodity, at least in a sense that he has yet to play a timed college down against a team in a different uniform. But the small sample size the fan base was given at the annual spring game has not just the Clemson fans, but college football fans and analyst all over the spectrum talking Trevor.
Bryant who had to work to win over the fan base with his play on the field and his electric personality on and off the field. Has himself become a fan favorite and has the term "team leader" as he has positioned himself in his team mates eyes as a player they can now depend on inside the heat of the game or off the field. A leader is hard to find and bonds a locker room when it's needed most. This is the one thing Bryant has over Lawrence that Trevor cannot show until his time comes. And players always play harder if they feel confident in leadership. That goes with out saying, as from the coaches to players all up and down the roster all look towards certain players to lead.
So as the Summer starts . . . Who do you think ends up the Tigers starter barring no injury, at the end of this 2018 Season ? Does Kelly Bryant keep his title and take the Tigers all the way thru the season ? Or does the "young gun" come in and unseat the incumbent and over take him at some point in the 2018 season? All of Clemson Nation and college football is anxiously awaiting the start of the year and this is one story line everyone is paying attention to.
Stay tuned as we chronicle the 2018 season as it takes place right here on ClemsonSportsNews.com .