By Zachary Wagner
When Clemson wide receivers come running down the tunnel for pregame warmups, they can be found sporting purple long sleeve Nike dri-fit warm up shirts with white letters on the front stating: WRU. WRU, or wide receiver university fits right in with the Tigers. With big name wide receivers going to the NFL under Head Coach Dabo Swinney include names like: Deandre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Adam Humphries, Mike Williams and of course, every Clemson’s fans favorite, Hunter Renfrow. That is just a handful of wideouts that have played under Coach Swinney.
Seeing the wide receivers come out in their warmups with WRU displayed across the front got me thinking, how long until the quarterback room has their own warmups, proudly displaying QBU on the front? You can make an argument that Clemson over the last decade has had one of, if not the best, QB rooms in College Football.
The decade starts with a fan favorite QB, Tajh Boyd. Boyd in three seasons led the Tigers to three major bowl games, including bowl wins against LSU (2012 Chick-Fil-A Bowl) and Ohio State (2014 Orange Bowl). Boyd finished his Clemson career with school records for passing yards with 11,904 and passing touchdowns with 107. During his three years as the Tigers starting quarterback, Boyd compiled a 32-8 record. After a great college career, Boyd was drafted in the 6th round of the NFL Draft to the New York Jets.
After Boyd became the first Tiger quarterback selected in the NFL Draft since 2006, Deshaun Watson was handed the reins to the ship. We all know what Watson did for the Tigers during his tenure as the starting quarterback. The list includes, playing a game against South Carolina on a torn ACL, leading the Tigers to back-to-back National Championship Game appearances, winning Clemson it’s first National Championship in over 30 years and the list just goes on and on. Watson finished with 90 passing touchdowns and over 10,000 career passing yards in the Purple and Orange. He also eclipsed 1,900 rushing yards and 26 rushing touchdowns before ultimately being drafted 12th overall to the Houston Texans in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Next came Kelly Bryant to lead the Clemson Tigers. Bryant was named the starting quarterback heading into the 2017 season, where he would lead the Tigers to an ACC Championship and a third straight College Football Playoff appearance. Clemson finished the season with a 12-2 record, throwing for 2,800 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Bryant started the first four games of the 2018 season before Coach Swinney would name former 5-star, #1 quarterback recruit, Trevor Lawrence the starting quarterback. Bryant would decide to transfer and maintain his final year of eligibility.
Lawrence has taken over Tiger fans hearts everywhere. The long haired 6’6 quarterback has accumulated a 29-1 career record in two seasons with Clemson. Lawrence led the 2018 Tigers to the National Championship, becoming the first College Football team to ever achieve a 15-0 record. In two seasons with the Tigers, Lawrence has thrown for 7,000 yards and 66 touchdowns, eclipsing 30 touchdown passes in both seasons. Lawrence helped the Tigers reach the 2020 CFP National Championship game as well, coming back from a 16 point deficit in the semifinal game against Ohio State to reach New Orleans. No matter what happens during the 2020 season, it is safe to say that Lawrence has won over the hearts of Tiger fans all across the world.
When Lawrence ultimately goes #1 overall in the 2021 NFL draft next spring, Clemson will still be in good hands in the quarterback room. The #1 overall pro-style quarterback in DJ Uiagalelei will be here to pick up right where Lawrence left off. I think during this season, Uiagalelei will get bountiful playing time as the first stringers will have the game more than wrapped up at halftime.
It may not be long until we see the Clemson quarterback room come out for warmups in Death Valley sporting new shirts with three simple letters on them. Those three letters mean a lot more than just QBU, it means the tradition and legacies of the quarterbacks that came before them.