By Marty Coleman "Seldom Used Reserve"
The Yo-Yo of emotions that is college football recruiting yanked Clemson fans up and down in the last couple of weeks.
First, prized quarterback target Ty Simpson of Martin, Tennessee chose Alabama on February 26th leaving the Tigers without a quarterback in the 2022 class. I’ve documented just how thin the Tigers quarterback room is in this space previously, but a miss on Simpson was potentially catastrophic longer term as the Tigers had no other offers out at the most important position on the field.
Less than a week later, the Yo-Yo went back up in the Tigers favor as 2022 4 star Cade Klubnik of Austin, Texas committed to Clemson. While Klubnik is not as highly rated as Simpson, he is a top 100 player (74th) and the 5th ranked Pro-Style quarterback in his class. Not exactly chopped liver.
Then there’s the pedigree from which Klubnik comes: Westlake High School has produced Drew Brees, Nick Foles, and Sam Ehlinger at the quarterback position. Name another high school that has two Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks as alumni. I’ll hang up and listen.
But more than that tangential connection is this: I watched Klubnik play a good bit this year as Westlake games are on local TV (I live in the Austin area). I saw his team outscore Texas 6A opponents 737-106. That’s not a misprint. While they outmanned most teams, don’t overlook a victory over Houston North Shore and Auburn commit Dematrius Davis along with an 18 point victory over #1 recruit Quinn Ewers in the State Championship game - a game in which Klubnik thoroughly outplayed Ewers. Klubnik’s a winner.
That said, Ewers and Simpson look more polished than Klubnik as all three head into their senior seasons and I understand why they’re ranked where they are. Cade Klubnik has work to do. My guess is Klubnik would be the first to acknowledge this and has already begun said work. He’s that kind of young man.
Bantering about all of this on the Sluggo Podcast, we compared these guys to Clemson’s gold standard - Deshaun Watson - and came to the following conclusion: The Clemson roster has improved enough that the Tigers no longer depend on a do it all quarterback. Yes, the quarterback needs to be very good - that’s obvious - but Superman is no longer needed.
Ohio State and Alabama “won” the quarterback battle for 2022 based on the recruiting rankings. But that’s merely the beginning, not the end, of the player acquisition arms race.
We won’t know who won the war for two or three seasons.