The Clemson Tigers could have two quarterback recruits (four-star Bubba Chandler and three-star QB/athlete Will Taylor) taken early in the major league baseball draft. The draft won’t be held until July, but a recent ESPN mock draft had both QB prospects listed in the top twenty. Taylor, a centerfielder and pitcher, is described as a “consensus first-round talent.” Chandler, a shortstop and pitcher, has rocketed up draft boards over the last couple of years.
Dabo Swinney has long been a fan of recruiting multi-sport athletes. In his words, “I just think that the cross-training, the different types of coaching, the different types of locker rooms, the different environments that you practice in, the different challenges — I think it develops a much more competitive, well-rounded type person”.
Dabo isn’t the only one of this opinion. Studies have shown that rates of burnout and injury are significantly lower for athletes who play multiple sports growing up. ESPN has covered this as it relates to youth basketball. If you watched the NCAA tournament at all, you may recall a certain multi-sport star having some big moments.
There is also the belief that hyper-specialization leaves kids with little room to improve in college. As Swinney says, “I see it all the time; one sport since the fifth grade, and that’s all they’ve done. They’ve been to every clinic, every camp, every teaching session, and everything’s been squeezed out of them. There’s just not that much room for them to get any better.” He’s particularly fond of big, athletic players, telling reporters “I love it when big guys run track, play basketball, or whatever it may be”.
There’s a history of quarterbacks translating skills learned from baseball, in particular the ability to make “off-platform throws”, to the gridiron. One doesn’t need to look further than Mahomes and Murray to see it in action on Sundays. Throwing on the run is simply a more valuable skill than ever.
This isn’t just limited to quarterbacks either. Clemson has had success with former soccer players (James Skalski), wrestlers (Gage Cervenka), basketball players (Davis Allen, Charone Peake, Adam Humphries, etc.), and others.
With an injury to Taisun Phommachanh there isn’t much left at quarterback. Walk-on Hunter Helms is likely the default backup quarterback by virtue of experience. I have a hard time seeing either true freshman being up to speed with just a fall camp to get ready. But it remains possible that either (likely the more highly rated Chandler) could be called on to fill in for a game or two later in the season. Unless, of course, a baseball team gives them a million reasons not to.