SPORTS LIBRARY, Clemson, football (copy) PRINT

CLEMSON—The Clemson Tigers have had a great deal of success with recruiting the top quarterbacks in recent years.

With the signing of the third-best quarterback in the nation in the class of 2019 and consensus four-star prospect Taisun Phommachanh joining the likes of former Tiger Deshaun Watson and current Tiger signal-caller Trevor Lawrence, the Tigers have turned the corner from being Wide Receiver U. to Quarterback U. in recent years.

However, Tiger fans will have to have a little more patience with Phommachanh than they had with Watson and Lawrence—two generational-type quarterbacks—because he still has a lot to learn before he is handed the keys to the Tigers’ Ferrari.

“Obviously, he is a guy that has come in with a good background, but at the same time probably not the same preparation that Deshaun and Trevor had coming out of high school, but I have been pleased with his command of the offense,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “Just the little things we always talk about. You have heard me say handling the motions, handling the snap count, making things right and understanding what everybody is doing. He sees that big picture. Better than I anticipated.”

In his first Orange and White game last Saturday, Phommachanh showed how much he has grown during the spring practice session—as he completed completed eight of 14 passes for 85 yards, including a 25-yard strike to wide receiver Justyn Ross.

But what the fans saw in the spring game did not come as a surprise to head coach Dabo Swinney, who expected Phommachanh to play well.

“Just what I hoped I would see. Not overwhelmed. Smooth operator. Total command of what we're asking him to do,” Swinney said. “Sitting back there while I'm watching and he made right decisions. He's incredibly athletic. Accurate. Ball comes out and he's a smart decision maker. I'm really encouraged by that.

“It's a great luxury for us to have a guy like that and then to have you Chase (Brice) and Trevor as a model. They really truly have complete ownership of what we're doing. So it's been really good. That's helped him really speed up the improvement process this Spring. Taisun, he's got a lot of the build.”

Now with the spring session over, the task for Phommachanh will become how he responds this summer when the coaches are not allowed to be around.

But Elliott believes that he will rise to the occasion and come back even better than he was int the spring game.

“Now the biggest thing is when the bullets start flying, can you process all of that as quickly as you need to process it and that is where he is growing every single day,” Elliott said. “So, I am excited to see him in a situation where the coaches are not on the field and he is out there by himself. He is responsible for commanding everything. I think he will rise the to the occasion.”

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia.


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