While Monte Lee was certainly watching the MLB draft and seeing how draft picks may effect next year’s depth, Dabo Swinney and the football staff also had reason to watch. Tiger freshman QB Bubba Chandler and freshman athlete Will Taylor, who is expected to take reps as a back up QB this season, both had projections of going in the first round. It appears the duo’s football prospects made MLB teams a bit wary of using a first round draft pick on them, as there was a lot of question regarding what each player would choose.
While many Tiger fans felt that neither player going in the first round all but sewed up the quarterback room, it looks as if one of the two is choosing to play pro baseball.
Bubba Chandler was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round. Chandler immediately tweeted this:
Let’s get to work https://t.co/aE5G6R9IrQ— Bubba Chandler (@Bubbachandler_) July 12, 2021
Chandler also changed his twitter bio to “ballplayer for the @pirates.” Many of Chandler’s football teammates took to twitter to congratulate the Rabun county product. It seems almost certain that Chandler will be moving out of Clemson and playing in the minors this summer.
As the NCAA has begun the NIL era, the decision to play minor league baseball over college sports isn’t quite as clear cut as it may have been at one point. Stories of living out of hotels, underpaid players, and low quality meals have certainly shown that the road to show isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When you compare that to the gourmet meals and multi million dollar facilities that a football program like Clemson has, along with the new ability to earn endorsement money makes going to school seem like a pretty sweet gig, especially when you consider your room and board, books, and tuition are covered and you can live like a king in a town like Clemson for relatively little money.
Players in the Oakland A’s organization shared these photos of their recent post-game meals.— Advocates for Minor Leaguers (@MiLBAdvocates) June 1, 2021
No employer would serve these meals to employees they care about. Why are the A’s serving them to their future Major Leaguers? pic.twitter.com/cIFqiPg6iX
For Chandler, the value of his pick is estimated at over $850, 000. All things considered, this is a sound decision for Chandler, especially when you factor in that football wise he would most likely be a career backup, with two seasons behind DJ Uiagelelei and one behind Cade Klubnik after that.
On the other side, Will Taylor apparently was pretty firm with teams that he wanted to play college football, and while the Dutch Fork star was projected as a top 20 player, he didn’t get drafted until the Rangers picked him in the 19th round. It seems pretty certain that Taylor will suit up for both the Clemson football and baseball teams for at least the next three seasons.
So where does this put the quarterback room now? Obviously, DJ Uiagelelei is QB1. Taisun Phommachahn was presumed to be QB2 until he tore his Achilles in the spring game, which will have him missing at least part of, if not the whole season. So now, the QBs after DJ are second year preferred walk-on Hunter Helms, Will Taylor, and true freshman preferred walk-on Billy Wiles. Wiles is a 3-star QB out of Virginia who chose to take a shot as a PWO at Clemson instead of taking a scholarship to Old Dominion, Bucknell, or Harvard. Helms has a solid enough showing in the spring game and some even felt he could have dethroned a healthy Phommachahn as QB2. Taylor is a guy that will probably finish his career at Clemson as a WR, but is playing QB for now due to the aforementioned depth issues.
So, for now, we’re looking at DJ Uiagelelei being the only scholarship pure QB on the roster. A lot of people have been pointing to the transfer portal but 1) it is probably a bit late 2) Dabo isn’t big on transfers and 3) it is hard to convince a QB to transfer just to sit behind DJ. A guy like Nick Schuessler who is fine sitting behind the superstar is tough to find. While being the Alex Moran of Clemson sounds like a sweet deal to someone like me, a lot of quarterbacks would rather start somewhere else.
It will be interesting to see what the post camp depth chart looks like. It will also be interesting to see if the coaching staff considers getting creative with the depth (Will Spiers looked fine during the Georgia Tech game.) Hopefully DJ Uiagelelei stays healthy and this worrying is all for naught, but expect everyone in Death Valley to hold their breath just a bit longer this year anytime DJ takes a hit.