Clemson Football fans are excited about quarterback Cade Klubnik, and I can’t blame them. I’m excited too.
Recently, Marty Coleman wrote about the hype surrounding Klubnik in Tiger Nation, and he wondered if Clemson fans are getting carried away with expectations. He pointed out that a 5-star rating and early success led to a lot of hype for DJ Uiagalelei too. That hype was ultimately left unfulfilled.
Nobody can blame Tiger fans for being excited about DJ’s future at the helm of the offense. Fans weren’t the only ones who predicted greatness. Many oddsmakers had DJ as a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy going into the 2021 season.
Now that we have entered the downtime between conference championships and the bowl season, oddsmakers and prognosticators have begun peaking ahead to the 2023 season. Once again, they are predicting big things for Clemson’s presumed starting quarterback.
USA Today ranked Klubnik third on their list of Heisman contenders, behind only 2022 winner Caleb Williams and Drake Maye.
College Football News has Klubnik fourth on their list behind Williams, Michael Penix, Jr., and Maye.
ESPN has Klubnik on their list of up-and-comers, alongside Arch Manning, an incoming freshman who has never taken a snap in a college football game.
That last line should tell you just how little attention fans should give to these predictions. Williams, Maye, and Penix are established college football players who all have at least one full season starting under their belt. They are legit contenders.
The rest of the names on these lists aren’t based on what players have proven on the field. It’s highly speculative. Otherwise, Manning wouldn’t be there.
ESPN lists TCU’s Chandler Morris as a contender for the 2023 Heisman. Are you familiar with that name?
If you aren’t, it’s because he was injured early in the season, and Max Duggan took over. ESPN is simply assuming he could be a contender because he will be taking over a team that is in this year’s College Football Playoff.
Kyle McCord from Ohio State is listed. He’s had slightly more pass attempts in two seasons than Klubnik had as a freshman. He’s just the most likely candidate right now to start for the Buckeyes in 2023. If Ohio State takes an experienced quarterback from the transfer portal, McCord’s odds will drop and the transfer will suddenly find himself on Heisman hype lists.
Klubnik has given us a preview of what he can do behind center, but it all sums up to about a single game of film. He will also play in the Orange Bowl, but all that will do is give us the same amount of evidence of his capabilities as we got from DJ in 2020.
Clemson Football fans shouldn’t get carried away with Heisman hype that is based on speculation and not evidence
This will inevitably bring out the fans who will champion that “Klubnik isn’t DJ!”. I guarantee those fans weren’t claiming DJ wasn’t any good after he set the third-highest single game passing yards mark in Clemson history.
That’s right: the only Tiger quarterback to pass for more yards in a single game than DJ was Deshaun Watson, who owns the top two games on the list.
That’s right: DJ passed for more yards in South Bend in 2020 than Trevor Lawrence ever had in a single game in the entirety of his Clemson career.
That’s right: DJ is now in the portal after an altogether underwhelming two-year career as a starter.
It’s not bad to get excited. Excitement is fun. I’m excited to see what Klubnik can do in the Orange Bowl and beyond.
We just need to make sure we don’t get carried away with that excitement. It’s not good for us, and it’s not good for Klubnik.
Don’t let the Heisman hype-makers get the better of you.