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Clemson's Stoudt is one of the unheralded ACC QBs trying to break out

Jerry DiPaola
| Monday, July 21, 2014, 9:30 p.m.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Clemson quarterback Cole Stoudt was 8 years old the first time he saw his father cry. He wanted to know why.

“They destroyed Three Rivers Stadium,” Cliff Stoudt told him.

The elder Stoudt is the former Steelers quarterback who played behind Terry Bradshaw in the late 1970s and early '80s. Three Rivers fans hurled boos and snowballs at Stoudt, the latter when he joined the USFL and returned to play for the Birmingham Stallions against the Pittsburgh Maulers in 1984. But when the stadium was imploded to make room for Heinz Field, he cried in front of his youngest son.

“It really hit him,” Cole Stoudt said. “That's where he was first drafted, that's where his home was and that's where his heart was for the NFL.

“I know what he was feeling because I would probably feel the same way if they destroyed (Clemson Memorial Stadium).”

Instead, Stoudt, whose older brother Zach committed to Pitt in 2007 before signing with Louisville, hopes to build a reputation of his own when he steps under center as the starter. Stoudt spent the past three seasons as — what else? — a backup for former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd.

Stoudt and his inexperience have plenty of company in the ACC, which concluded its media days Monday. The conference is bereft of seasoned quarterbacks, with only five returning starters, including Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston of Florida State. The others are Syracuse's Terrel Hunt, Duke's Anthony Boone and North Carolina's Marquise Williams, all of whom shared the position with others last season, and Virginia's David Watford, who lost his job in the spring to redshirt sophomore Greyson Lambert, who already has been voted captain by his teammates.

Of the 52 ACC players on award watch lists, only three — Winston, Boone and North Carolina State's Jacoby Brissett — play quarterback.

At Pitt, redshirt sophomore Chad Voytik arrives with only two quarters of experience, but a strong hold on the starting job. He replaced an injured Tom Savage in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and ran for a touchdown and threw for 108 yards while rallying Pitt to a victory.

“He is growing,” coach Paul Chryst said. “He has a lot of work still ahead, which is all right. That's where he should be.”

Gone to the NFL are Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Pitt's Savage, Boston College's Chase Rettig, Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas, Miami's Stephen Morris, North Carolina's Bryn Renner and Boyd. Duke's Brandon Connette, who threw for 323 yards against Pitt last season, Vad Lee of Georgia Tech and Pete Thomas of North Carolina State transferred.

Miami also lost Morris' backup, Ryan Williams, to a knee injury, leaving the position “wide open,” according to coach Al Golden. The contenders are redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen, transfer Jake Heaps and freshmen Malik Rosier and Brad Kayaa. Heaps didn't arrive until last month after completing 49 percent of his passes at Kansas last season.

“We lost a lot of good ones,” Marquise Williams said. “But we have Jameis Winston back, me back.”

Almost ashamed, Williams laughed. He still hasn't been named the starter, even though he led North Carolina to a 5-1 record when Renner was injured. Redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky, who was recruited by coach Larry Fedora — Williams was not — will challenge for the job.

Fedora sees nothing wrong with throwing the job open for competition.

“If we can get that kind of competition at every position, we will be a good football team,” he said. “To me, it was a natural. Everyone else made a big deal out of it.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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