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Dabo Swinney names a favorite to replace QB Deshaun Watson out of spring game

One of the bigger storylines in college football heading into the 2017 season is who will replace superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson for defending national champion Clemson. The Tigers wrapped up spring football on Saturday afternoon and head coach Dabo Swinney was not shy in naming a favorite to take over under center but noted that the quarterback competition on the team is far from over.

“If we played a game today, Kelly (Bryant) would be the guy,” Swinney told ESPN after the game. “But we don’t play today. We play in September, and everything counts. I’m pleased with the spring all of them have had.”

A junior next season, Bryant has only seen limited action as one of Watson’s primary backups the past two years but is the favorite to take over in 2017. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he brings plenty of size to the position and is as good, if not better, a runner than his predecessor was. One problem going forward however? Tigernet.com reports that Bryant tore a tendon in his finger during the first series of the spring game and will need to rest it up for the next six weeks or so.

As a result, Bryant’s numbers during Saturday’s outing weren’t exactly what Clemson fans were hoping as he completed just 4 of 13 attempts for 43 yards and an interception.

Despite that type of performance, fellow signal-callers Tucker Israel, redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper and highly touted early enrollee Hunter Johnson apparently weren’t able to close the gap between themselves and Bryant in Swinney’s eyes. The race to become the starter figures to go through several weeks of fall camp later this year but for right now at least, there’s a leader in the clubhouse among the Tigers’ four options at quarterback.