Coach Dabo Swinney looked like a happy camper yesterday at the Annual Orange and White game. That happiness turned to concern late in the 4th quarter when QB Taisum Phommachanh went down with an injury. Phommachanh was all set to be the backup to DJ Uiagalelei. He will be out indefinitely with a torn Achilles tendon.
Generally, this type of injury requires between 4 and 12 months to recover.
“To be honest with you, the majority of ACLs and Achilles injuries that I have been around in my career have mostly been non-contact and that was the case with this one,” Swinney said.
Phommachanh’s injury leaves the Tigers in a bind, but this isn’t the first time the depth at quarterback has been challenged.
“Yeah, just a couple of years when we won the national Championship. 2018, I think Hunter Renfrow was my third-team quarterback. This is not our first rodeo.”
Hunter Helms looks to be in line to be the backup now to Uiagalelei. In the fall, there will be three freshmen entering the fray, as of right now. Bubba Chandler is scheduled to come in but that is in doubt if he gets picked in the MLB Draft in mid-July. There is a better than average chance he could go in the first round. If that happens, it will be hard for Chandler to turn down the opportunity to ride that minor league bus for a few years and make the big bucks.
That leaves another baseball talent, Will Taylor, and PWO Billy Wiles to provide depth along with Helm. Taylor originally signed with Clemson to play baseball, but in order to play football, he had to sign an NLI to play football. He too could be an early round draft pick for MLB. Taylor led Dutch Fork to a perfect 10-0 season and a state championship in football. He threw for 2227 yards and 21 touchdowns. He added 448 yards on the ground and 11 more touchdowns. The 6-0 175 QB was talked about earlier by Swinney as a candidate to move to the slot position.
Finally, there is Billy Wiles, who decommitted from Tulane University when the Tigers came calling. The 6-3 200 Virginia native garnered 15 offers and when Clemson offered, he jumped. Who knew he might end up 3rd on the depth chart without even stepping on campus.
Swinney has never been a proponent of the transfer portal but desperate times call for desperate measures. There are several quarterbacks still in the transfer portal but do any of them interest Dabo. Joe Milton, out of Orlando, Florida, signed with Michigan in 2018. The 6-5 234 4-star entered the portal in February and is still available. He never received much interest from Clemson before this but could he be a possibility.
There aren’t a lot of options out there in the portal right now. Austin Kendall, 6-2 212, has one more year of eligibility after playing with Oklahoma and West Virginia. Alan Bowman decided to leave Texas Tech and enter the portal.
Could the Tigers reach out to any of these or will Dabo continue to resist this path. There are four months between now and the beginning of Fall Camp. If Chandler and Taylor keep on their path to playing for the Tigers, he may work from within, but if they decide to go baseball, the transfer portal might come into play