It didn’t take long for Clemson to land its QB for the 2022 cycle despite missing on Ty Simpson just days ago. On the surface, the courtship appears to have developed at lightspeed, but Dabo and staff have been building a relationship with the Texan for months. Klubnik first visited Clemson, SC early last Fall, and had remained in close communication with the Tigers ever since. Friday afternoon, the offer came.
WOW!! All glory to God! This one is special. I have built a great relationship with these coaches over the past 8 months. Blessed to receive an offer from Clemson University!!! Go Tigers! . pic.twitter.com/tD9m7s118P— Cade Klubnik (@CadeKlubnikQB) February 26, 2021
While schools from all over the country threw their hats in the ring, once Clemson offered this recruitment was effectively over. The commitment is the 4th of the 2022 class, all of whom are blue-chip players. Most importantly, it gives Clemson a potential future starter at Quarterback, as well as giving the class a highly-rated ring leader to help recruit others. This will undoubtedly also assist in the efforts to break into Texas, including one of the few wide receiver offers, top target Brenen Thompson out of Spearman.
What Clemson Gets:
Cade Klubnik was a 3-star prospect who had thrown just 69 career varsity passes heading into this Fall. After a huge Junior season that saw him win a state title in the most difficult classification in Texas (and maybe the country), he is now rated as the #74 player on 24/7’s composite ranking.
Racking up 3495 passing yards and a 34/3 TD/Int ratio while rushing for 15 TDs in a single season will impress any evaluator, let alone doing so against the level of competition that Cade competed against. A convincing win over South Carroll and #1 overall recruit (and OSU commit) Quinn Ewers capped off a special season, and now it’s easy to see why Clemson has recruited him diligently for so long.
Klubnik owns a solid frame for the position at 6’2.5” with plus length and high-level athleticism. He runs track in addition to playing football, and while he is a good but not necessarily elite athlete, the sprinter’s background is glaring once he’s running in a straight line or hitting the open field. As previously mentioned, Cade rushed for 15 TDs this season, but he also uses his legs as a weapon while scrambling and/or throwing on the run.
He is impressively accurate for a young QB throwing on the run, and was frequently able to extend key plays as a Junior. It is extremely valuable for a QB to excel at evading pressure, make off-platform throws and be comfortable outside of the pocket, let alone such a young player. Off-platform accuracy is usually something you have or you don’t, because once everything breaks down during a play you’re more likely to rely on natural ability than coaching.
As a passer, the accurate ball placement stands out. Although he doesn’t have the arm strength of other prospects, Cade’s ball placement on a majority of his throws is exactly where you’d want it to be. Intermediate throws to the outside are often the most difficult for young QBs, but Klubnik already demonstrates the requisite anticipation and accuracy to make them.
Another area of strength for Klubnik is throws over the middle. These throws in particular show off his arm’s velocity. Deep throws are very catchable for his receivers, although he ideally will not have to put so much air into said throws once he continues to add weight to his frame.
That leads me to the areas of improvement, namely a question mark about his ultimate arm strength. On film, you can see his throws start to die a bit downfield, and throws to the perimeter could arrive faster. The answer to this question mark seems fairly obvious, however, as Klubnik is still very lean and clearly a long way from filling out at just 185 pounds. His frame and arm length lend toward arm strength improving upon the addition of this weight, and his ceiling may ultimately be determined by those factors.
I’d like to see his mechanics and release cleaned up, but the latter is generally smooth. Cade can also improve on his processing and reads, similar to virtually every young QB.
Cade Klubnik and Clemson are a perfect match for so many reasons. Starting with on-field play, his style of play fits schematically and he’s already proven that he’s capable of not just winning at the highest level, but dominating that competition. His athleticism and running ability fit well with Clemson’s zone read game and will continue to make the offense multi-dimensional. Accuracy and ball placement are important in any scheme, and Klubnik displays these traits even to some of the most difficult locations on the field. There is still so much untapped potential as a passer given his current frame and weight.
This creates a perfect situation in the Clemson QB room. Cade must put on weight before reaching his potential and will likely need 2 years to put it all on. Fortunately for us all the Tigers have DJ Uiagalelei for 2 more seasons, giving the new commitment plenty of time to fill out. Clemson is also after a high-profile QB commitment in the 2023 class, and that will be a development to watch closely.
The chief compliment I can give a QB is that he is a “gamer”. What that means is to have an innate composure no matter the stage, to be a leader of men, and ultimately to win the biggest games. Cade Klubnik has things that you can’t teach at the position, and has the ability to one day be one of the country’s best quarterbacks. We will have to wait for him to fill out and develop, but I see a player with the potential to be picked early in the NFL draft and keep Clemson in national championship contention should he become the starter.