In Clemson’s Spring Game, projected second-string QB Taisun Phommachanh suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. This elevated QB Hunter Helms — a redshirt freshman and former walk-on — to second-string with no other quarterback on the roster.
Two incoming three-star freshman were due to join the Tigers in the Fall to fill out the depth chart at quarterback: Bubba Chandler from the Athens, GA area and Will Taylor from Irmo, SC just 17 miles away from U of SC. Both players are dual-sport athletes so this week’s MLB draft would determine if they actually stepped foot on campus or if they joined an MLB team’s minor league system.
Bubba Chandler was drafted 72nd overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates and has already announced his decision to forgo college and begin his professional baseball career. The bonus slot value for his draft position is $870,700.
Will Taylor, who some projected to go as high as 12th overall, dropped into the 19th round where he was selected by the Texas Rangers. This doesn’t indicate any red flags in his evaluation. Rather, it is an indication that teams understood he planned to sign with Clemson where he will play both football and baseball.
Since the draft, Taylor has confirmed his plans to enroll at Clemson. This gives the football team a little more depth in the QB room for 2021. With Phommachanh injured, Clemson now has DJ Uiagalelei, Hunter Helms, Will Taylor, and walk-on freshman Billy Wiles at quarterback for 2021.
While the this is certainly a positive development, far too much has been made of Clemson’s depth at QB. Regardless of what happened this week with the MLB draft, the Tigers are one of the two or three best teams in the country with a healthy DJ Uiagalelei, but only one of the two or three best teams in the ACC without him. That didn’t change when Phommachanh was injured and it doesn’t materially change with this news. Nevertheless, this is certainly welcome. In the short-term, he adds QB depth, and in the long-term, it sounds like he could be a valuable slot receiver:
“We expect him to move to wideout, and I really do think that he’s got a chance to be elite as a receiver, really special. We’re going to take him this first year and we’re going to really teach him as a quarterback, and then the plan is to move him. But again, he’ll always have that foundation in play.” - Coach Swinney
On the baseball diamond, Will Taylor is a speedy centerfielder who hit .450 with a .586 on-base percentage and 21 steals as a high school senior. Perfect Game ranked him as the 6th best outfield prospect overall. His baseball coach said he “has one of the greatest work ethics” of any player he has coached. Further, he said he has “MLB power and speed.”
Securing Will Taylor’s commitment is a tremendous win for the baseball program. This is exactly the news Coach Monte Lee and the struggling baseball program needed. Will Taylor should help the baseball team immediately. In the coming years could be a star outfielder on the baseball diamond and a contributor as a speedy slot receiver on the gridiron!