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Clemson opens spring with QB battle

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 5, 2014 at 7:20 pm •  Published: March 5, 2014

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — For the first time in five years, Clemson has questions at quarterback.

The Tigers started what figures to be a three-way battle to succeed record-setting passer Tajh Boyd with the start of spring practice Wednesday.

"I can't wait to see how it plays out," Boyd said.

Neither can Clemson fans, who've grown comfortable with the durable Boyd under center the past three seasons. He threw for nearly 12,000 yards and an Atlantic Coast Conference record 107 touchdowns during his time at Clemson.

But Boyd's time is done — he'll audition for NFL personnel on campus Thursday at Clemson's pro day — and coach Dabo Swinney is looking for a replacement among longtime backup Cole Stoudt, redshirt freshman Chad Kelly and prospect Deshaun Watson, who enrolled early to take part in spring drills.

Swinney said this week that Stoudt, who'll be a senior next fall, will get first crack simply because "somebody has to go out there first."

But Swinney says he and the coaches will be swayed by whoever plays the best.

"At the end of the day, it's about scoring touchdowns and who can get that done," Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris said.

Stoudt, the son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, has had the most experience, mostly mopping up after Boyd led the Tigers to a big lead and the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Still, he's completed more than 72 percent of his passes and had just one interception in 119 career pass attempts the past three seasons. He's spent the most time behind Boyd drilling in Morris' high-tempo system and has shown ability to move the Tigers.

"We were all competing together and making each other better," Stoudt said. "When the coaches weren't there, we were coaching each other to get better."

Chad Kelly also has an NFL quarterback pedigree — he's the nephew of ex-Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly — and a confidence that's evident each time he takes the field, speaks into a camera or uses social media.

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