CLEMSON -- With two practices remaining before Saturday's spring game, Clemson appears to have a leader in the backup quarterback race.

Dabo Swinney said Cole Stoudt has pulled ahead of fellow true freshman Tony McNeal in the competition for the No. 2 quarterback spot behind entrenched starter Tajh Boyd.

The Clemson coach likes Stoudt's prototype size (6-4, 200), and his ability to quickly grasp offensive concepts.

"I think Cole has separated himself a little bit," Swinney said.

"He's a better than average runner, but his physical size is his best attribute. … He has an excellent demeanor; he is very coachable, very serious. He's one of those guys that is over there all the time seeking know-ledge."

Stoudt possesses a good arm and broke some of NFL quarterback Brady Quinn's high school passing records at Dublin Coffman (Ohio) High School.

"The biggest thing is he has thrown the ball a little better (than McNeal), he has made a few more plays and that is what that position is all about," Swinney said.

Stoudt and McNeal are Clemson's only two scholarship options behind Boyd at quarterback, meaning the Tigers will enter the 2011 season with a combined 63 career pass attempts at quarterback.

Spring winners

While Stoudt has made the most of the 12 spring practices, Swinney has been impressed with a number of other players this spring:

--Swinney on redshirt freshman defensive back Bashuad Breeland: "The sky is the limit for him. Some guys you can just see it. He shows up and makes plays he competes relentlessly."

--The Clemson coach on sophomore linebacker Justin Parker: "The light has come on for him."

--Sophomore cornerback Martin Jenkins has Swinney "excited" and redshirt freshman tight end Sam Cooper has drawn Michael Palmer comparisons.

Extra points

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins is working as a punt returner this spring, but Hopkins is not sure if he'll remain in the role this fall, citing players with better speed might beat him out. Speedster Joe Craig is working as a kickoff returner … Swinney said junior defensive end Malliciah Goodman needs to have a good summer and get his mind in the "right place," like Da'Quan Bowers did last summer. "Right now he is just a good player, with the chance to be great," Swinney said. "Right now he is not doing the little things it takes to be great. We need him to reach another level."