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For Clemson QB, payoff near after long waiting game

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/20/18/48/zMw1e.Em.138.jpeg|245
    Chuck Burton - AP
    Clemson's Cole Stoudt answers a question Sunday at the ACC Football kickoff in Greensboro,.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/20/18/48/1pNGvc.Em.138.jpeg|248
    Tyler Smith - Getty Images
    Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt (18) passes against South Carolina State at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C..
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/20/18/48/1cFO7v.Em.138.jpeg|329
    Mark Crammer - AP
    Clemson quarterbacks Cole Stoudt, right, and Chad Kelly (11) warm up before a spring practice session at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C..

GREENSBORO For the past three seasons, Cole Stoudt had to bide his time.

Stoudt got increased snaps in each season as Tajh Boyd’s backup, but Boyd was unquestionably Clemson’s starting quarterback.

But with Boyd gone to the NFL, Stoudt’s patience has paid off. He’s the Tigers’ starting quarterback going into the 2014 season.

The wait is almost over.

“I was very patient for the past three years and every single time I got in I just maximized my opportunity,” Stoudt said Sunday at ACC Football Kickoff. “The coaches told me one reason why you’ve succeeded is because of your patience. I totally agree with that, but now that the season is about to start I’m losing some of my patience because I want the season to start.”

Stoudt has to wait more than a month before the Tigers kick off the season at Georgia in the marquee game of the first week of college football.

“I am perfectly prepared for this,” Stoudt said. “I have never been more prepared to go into a season.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney named Stoudt the starter one day after dismissing quarterback Chad Kelly for conduct detrimental to the team. Stoudt called it a “sad situation” but felt he earned the starting spot despite the dismissal.

Stoudt took 71 snaps in six appearances in his freshman year, and as his snaps increased during the next three seasons, his accuracy and efficiency did as well.

In 2013 he went 47-of-59 for 415 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.

Scout.com ranked Stoudt the No. 21 quarterback in the nation in high school, where he broke Brady Quinn’s Dublin Coffman High School record for career passing yards (4,393).

Boyd won the starting job in 2011, and Stoudt’s snaps came in blowouts or when Boyd suffered injury. Boyd won ACC Player of the Year after the 2012 season and flirted with the draft but ultimately decided to return for his senior season.

Stoudt said he was happy Boyd came back even though it kept him as the backup for yet another season, and he said he never once thought about transferring.

“I know my dad brought it up one time and I looked at him and said, ‘Please don’t ever bring that conversation up again because I don’t want to leave,’ ” said Stoudt, whose father, Cliff, backed up Terry Bradshaw before becoming the Steelers’ starting quarterback in 1983.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said recently freshman quarterback DeShaun Watson will play in the Georgia game, but Stoudt said he’s been assured he’s the starter and he’s not looking over his shoulder.

This is his team now.

“I knew I was going to have a long wait and I knew that I just had to keep preparing every single day and maximize my opportunities when I got a chance to go in,” he said. “Now that my time is here, I feel my patience has paid off and I have to wait just a little more until our first game.”

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9
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