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.
Welp, so much for that.
In mid-December, Bailey Granier (pictured, No. 75) announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from Vanderbilt to Tulane after graduating. However, on the same social media site this month, Granier revealed that, instead of Tulane, he would instead be transferring to UCF to finish out his collegiate playing career.
The offensive lineman, who attended the Green Wave’s spring game this year, gave no specific reason for the about-face.
Granier played in 27 games during his time with the Commodores, starting five of those contest during that time. All of those starts came at right tackle — two this past season, three in 2015.
As you’re likely well aware already, it’s not just Power Five programs who see a roster reshuffling this time of the year.
The latest Group of Five school to experience that personnel phenomenon is Bowling Green, with Cam Jefferies announcing on his personal Twitter account that, “[a]fter a countless amount of prayer and conversation with those closest to me,” he will be transferring from that Falcons. The cornerback gave no specific reason for the decision to move on from the MAC school.
According to his tweet, Jefferies is set to graduate from the university in August. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.
A two-star recruit coming out of high school in Ohio, Jefferies took a redshirt as a true freshman in 2015. The past two seasons, the defensive back started 12 of the 21 games in which he played. Seven of those starts came this past season.
Clemson has officially bid adieu to a highly-touted member of its 2017 recruiting class.
Earlier in the day Monday, reports surfaced that Hunter Johnson had decided to transfer from the Tigers, with a couple of Big Ten schools already listed as potential landing spots. Not long after that news made the rounds, Dabo Swinney acknowledged the reports, calling the quarterback “one of the best young men I’ve ever coached” in sending his former player his well-wishes.
“While it is always disappointing to lose a great person and a great player, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Hunter and watch him grow and develop over the last year and a half,” the full statement attributed to the head coach began. “Hunter is one of the best young men I have ever coached and has a very bright future ahead of him.
“I wish him all the best as he decides on his destination.”
Johnson himself issued his own statement through the school’s sports information department addressing the development.
“I want to thank Coach Swinney and the Clemson family for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something special,” said Johnson. “I’ve met some amazing people who I will forever call family. I am a better man and a better football player because of my time spent at Clemson. Go Tigers!”
The composite board on 247Sports.com had Johnson rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 30 player at any position for the Class of 2017. As a true freshman, Johnson completed 21 of his 27 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in seven appearances.
It’s believed that Johnson, who will have to sit out the 2018 season but would then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2019, is eyeing Northwestern or Purdue as potential transfer destinations.
By a vote of 9-3, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair has lost his defamation lawsuit against the NCAA. Following six days of deliberation, the verdict brings to a close the Reggie Bush scandal that began more than a decade ago, a scandal that saw the Trojans lose their 2004 BCS national championship and Bush be stripped of his 2005 Heisman Trophy.
McNair sued the NCAA after it found him guilty of unethical conduct while Bush received impermissible benefits. He was given a 1-year show-cause penalty, and has not worked since his contract expired in the summer of 2010.
McNair sought $27 million in damages from the NCAA.
McNair’s attorney Bruce Broilett told ESPN his team was “very disappointed … disappointed in the result. Assessing the situation and considering our next steps.”