CLEMSON -- With a freshman All-American returning at quarterback, few questions should swirl around the position during Clemson's spring practice, right?
Quarterback talk dominated much of Dabo Swinney's discussion with the media Thursday, as the Clemson football coach previewed spring practice, which begins Sunday.
While Kyle Parker sits atop the quarterback depth chart this spring, perhaps the most important question for Clemson is whether Parker will be around in August.
Parker is also a baseball prospect, eligible for the Major League Baseball draft in June, and is off to a torrid start for coach Jack Leggett's team.
Still, Swinney remains confident Parker will be back on campus this fall, saying he hopes Parker hits "30 more home runs" this spring. Parker, who has four home runs, is on pace to hit 34.
"I'd be completely shocked if Kyle Parker passes up an opportunity to run down that hill and be the starting quarterback at Clemson to ride a bus to Witchita," Swinney said. "But never say never."
Parker entered the spring as Baseball America's 71st-ranked college prospect and has done nothing but raise his stock with a 1.424 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage).
He has three main options:
--Parker could push the baseball decision to 2011.
--He could sign a pro baseball contract and continue to play football like Washington quarterback Jake Locker.
--Or Parker could follow former Michigan quarterback Drew Henson, who gave up his senior year of football to focus on baseball.
Also consider juniors typically have more bargaining leverage as baseball prospects, with the threat of returning for their senior year. However, Parker said his remaining three years of football eligibility give him future negotiating leverage.
"I still have a whole lot of factors to consider," Parker said. "Ultimately, I think there will be a decision to make at the end of this spring, and depending on what happens, probably at the end of next spring."
While C.J. Spiller was Clemson's most valuable asset last fall, Parker might be the most important player this fall. After all, as a freshman, Parker won an overtime game at Miami, led Clemson to its first Atlantic Division title and owns numerous passing records.
Swinney reminded the media corps that Parker, despite his 6-foot height, is very much a pro football prospect thanks to his quick release, throwing velocity and instincts.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Swinney chatted with Cleveland Browns quarterbacks coach Carl Smith, who coached Parker in high school. Smith said Parker would stand out among the quarterbacks Smith evaluated at the combine.
But Parker's own father, Carl, told The Post and Courier last fall his son has more upside as a pro baseball prospect, due to his height.
If Parker should exclusively play baseball, Plan B is redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd.
Due to baseball, Parker will miss five spring practices, allowing Boyd considerable reps with the first team. Boyd is still learning the offense after spending the majority of last fall running opposing offenses as the scout-team quarterback.
"It's a big spring for Tajh Boyd," Swinney said. "We've got to make him a viable option to go in and win football games."
Swinney noted without another proven QB on the roster, Boyd is a Parker sprained ankle away from starting.
Or a Parker bus trip to Wichita.