CLEMSON -- Clemson Nation is familiar with this storyline: a freshman quarterback tutored by a father who played in the NFL showcases an advanced understanding of the game in spring practice.
As a redshirt freshman, Kyle Parker -- whose father played in the NFL -- enjoyed an accelerated grasp of the position in beatng out a more experienced quarterback in Willy Korn, en route to freshman All-America honors in 2009. This spring, true freshman Cole Stoudt has impressed the coaching staff with precocious play, groomed by his father, Cliff Stoudt, who was a professional quarterback for 14 seasons in the NFL and USFL.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says this is Tajh Boyd's team, there will be no quarterback controversy in 2011. But Stoudt's pedigree, his prototype size (6-4, 210) and prep production -- Stoudt broke Brady Quinn's career yardage and touchdown records at Dublin Coffman (Ohio) High -- have advanced him to second on the depth chart and positioned him as potential future competition for Boyd.
"I think Cole has the opportunity to be a really good quarterback at this level," Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. "I think Tajh's arm strength is much stronger and it should be because he's been in a quality weight program. As far as understanding the offense, Tajh is a little ahead of these guys, but again Cole has done a good job."
While Stoudt and Parker have similar pedigrees, they have different personalities and skills.
Stoudt does not have the arm strength of Parker or Boyd, but he is four inches taller than both.
Unlike the athletically gifted Parker, whom former coordinator Billy Napier initially had to prod to attend early-morning meetings, Stoudt has lived in the film room this spring.
"He is one of the, if not the, hardest workers I've got," Morris said. "He's in here as much as I am. He's not going to let (an opportunity) slip by. He is a student of the game."
Just 12 practices into his college career, Stoudt, who enrolled early, said the game is already slowing.
"The beginning of spring ball is probably the fastest thing I've ever seen but after that I started to adapt," said Stoudt, who originally committed to Wyoming. "It's a very simple offense. The terminology is real easy; it took a couple days to understand it."
Morris wants Stoudt to improve his footwork. But even without perfect mechanics, Stout has completed 56 percent of his passes this spring. Boyd has completed 58 percent.
The first thing Morris seeks in a quarterback is accuracy and considers Stoudt to be "extremely accurate."
The precision throws can be traced to workouts with his father. Cliff Stoudt quarterbacked the Steelers, Rams and Dolphins in the NFL and schooled his sons -- Cole's brother Zack is a quarterback at Ole Miss -- in timing three-, five- and seven-step drops with receivers' routes.
"When we'd go throw he'd put me in situational stuff, just the timing of each throw," Stoudt said.
"He hasn't been forceful (with football). He's like 'if you want this, this is what you have to do.'"
Stoudt says the most important message from his father is the importance of leadership. In high school, Stoudt sometimes eased tension in the huddle by calling plays in a British accent.
"I haven't done it here in college yet, I have to earn my respect," Stoudt said.
Stoudt was asked if he has thought about being an injury away from becoming the starting quarterback, assuming he holds off fellow freshman Tony McNeal in summer camp.
"I know Tony and I are ready to go," Stoudt said, "but I really hope a sprained ankle or something doesn't happen."
Stoudt might be advanced for a true freshman, but he's still a true freshman.
Follow Travis Sawchik on Twitter @travis_sawchik.
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