CLEMSON — Following Clemson’s annual spring game, Dabo Swinney announced it looks like backup quarterback Taisun Phommachanh tore his Achilles tendon.
“You know, it looks like everybody came through it pretty well, with the exception of the guy in the purple jersey,” Swinney said. “Looks like he probably tore his Achilles. To be honest with you, the majority of ACLs and achilles injuries that I’ve been around in my career have mostly been non-contact. And that’s this case, obviously, purple jersey doesn’t let him get hit. … So really tough, tough break for Taisun. Having his best spring, and then really having a good competitive day to today.”
The redshirt sophomore left late in the fourth quarter with what looked like a left leg injury. He started the day slow, but pieced together a solid drive late in the fourth quarter before exiting. He finished the day 14 of his 25 passes for 163 yards with a touchdown and interception. Phommachanh missed part of spring practice and is currently the only other scholarship quarterback on Clemson’s roster. Hunter Helms, a redshirt freshman walk-on, played for both teams and was 11 of 16 for 88 yards with an interception.
A four-star quarterback coming out of Avon Old Farms (Bridgeport, CT), Phommachanh redshirted his freshman season. He was 5-for-17 passing for 17 yards, with an interception across 43 snaps last season. Earlier this spring, Swinney was asked if he would look to the transfer portal to add some depth to the quarterback position, but he stated he believes in the Phommachanh and believes the QB will continue to develop this summer.
Phommachanh now won’t be available this summer; the typical timetable from recovery to getting back on the football field is 11 months.
“This is definitely a setback for him, it’s a setback for our team. But, you know, everybody deals with setbacks along the way,” Swinney said.
The largest concern isn’t if or when Phommachanh can return, but who will go in for starting quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei if he’s injured. The Tigers open the 2021 season against Georgia on Sept. 4. Getting quarterbacks on campus fast is important, trying to learn the system before the start of the season.
Swinney’s said he’s not overly worried, especially because Clemson’s quarterback room will get a boost this summer, with Bubba Chandler and Will Taylor coming in. Still, both will only be a freshmen. The biggest concern for Swinney will be if Chandler is drafted in June’s MLB Draft, which is a real possibility. Chandler told The Athletic he will head to the MLB if he could net $2 million, which could happen.
If Chandler is drafted, Swinney might not have any other option but to look at the transfer portal. Former four-star quarterbacks currently available in the transfer portal include Miami’s Tate Martell and N’Kosi Perry along with Michigan’s Joe Milton.
“Yeah, just a couple years ago when we won the national championship. 2018. I think Hunter Renfrow was my third team quarterback. … This is not our first rodeo,” Swinney said.
The depth behind D.J. Uiagalelei is now a notable point of concern as Clemson enters the summer.