If you play in an elite college football program, here’s what you know. You know that next season, the season after or the season after that, coaches will bring to the program players that are as good or nearly as good or better than you are.
Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant knew this. Last season, after quarterback Deshaun Watson skipped his senior year and proceeded to the NFL, Bryant replaced him. Bryant didn’t overwhelm with talent the way Watson did, but that says more about Watson than Bryant.
But he won. He had what for most quarterbacks would be a season you brag about: His Tigers went 12-2, again won the ACC and again made the college football playoffs, losing to eventual champion Alabama in a semifinal.
Yet great programs add great players, and Clemson signed the No. 1 quarterback, and probably the No. 1 player, in the class of 2018. Trevor Lawrence is 6-6, strong-armed and accurate. It was as if Bryant was holding the position until Lawrence was prepared to claim it.
Lawrence won’t claim it this week. On Monday, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney named Bryant the starter Saturday against Furman.
Nice touch by Swinney, naming Bryant the starter. Although the job is not ceremonial, Bryant is popular with his teammates. He is the guy you want on your field, in your huddle and in your locker room. When he tells teammates they’ll pick up the first down, the touchdown or the victory, they believe.
Bryant might have to defend his Starting Quarterback title every week, and eventually might lose it. And even if he starts, Lawrence will play.
But on Saturday, the popular senior quarterback will start. Swinney makes so many good moves it’s as if he collects them. This is one more.