Jordan Leggett ran the crisp route, a deep post to the right corner of the end zone, while receivers Artavis Scott and Kyrin Priester hooked low. Offensive tackles Isaiah Battle and Joe Gore secured their blocks, keeping the pocket clean.

None of it would have mattered if the throw were even a smidge off-target, since linebacker B.J. Goodson and safety Jadar Johnson were tight in coverage on the tight end Leggett.

The only man on the field wearing a purple jersey never hesitated, flicking a sharp spiral to the northwest corner of the Death Valley gridiron.

"Even before I cut, the ball was in the air and it was just where it needed to be," Leggett would later recall. "I guess it's just because we have our timing down - but he's really smooth, he knows exactly how much touch he needs to put on the ball, if he needs to force it and if he doesn't need to force it."

Cole Stoudt really doesn't need to force anything any longer, at least not through the summer. With Chad Kelly kicked off the team Monday for detrimental conduct and Deshaun Watson primed to continue learning the ropes in his first year in Clemson, Stoudt has earned, finally, the Tigers' starting quarterback position in his fourth year on campus.

Six weeks before Clemson's spring game, when Stoudt captured the gig with his two touchdown passes to Leggett and Mike Williams (maybe, by the way, his two favorite targets as of now,) Stoudt had Tajh Boyd's blessing.

The Tigers' starting quarterback for the previous three years - Stoudt's freshman, sophomore and junior years - would be his usual political self when addressing the quarterback battle, especially since he's fond of "little brother" Watson.

But Boyd also never hid his closeness with Stoudt, one immortalized on Instagram with Boyd ripping open his button-down to reveal a Superman T-shirt and Stoudt doing the same with a Batman shirt.

"That's my dawg. That's my little bro right there," Boyd said March 5 of his longtime partner-in-crime.

"Everybody knows about Cole's stability. He's very calm. There's no up-and-down with him. He steps on the field, he's like, 'alright, I'm been here before.' Naturally, that's the guy you feel like is going to lead you, and especially opening up at Georgia and Florida State, this guy has been there."

Oh, and Boyd had to toss in at the end: Stoudt "can make every throw."

For all of Boyd's accolades in a Clemson uniform, he was scrutinized for locking his eyes onto his No. 1 target, whether the play called for Sammy Watkins or DeAndre Hopkins or Martavis Bryant or whomever to get the ball.

Stoudt, before he starts his first game, gets universally lauded for doing the opposite.

"He reads the whole field, instead of having one guy to go to like on a jump ball," Leggett said. "He scans the defense, and he's opened up his whole view when he goes through his progressions."

From Williams: "He looks through all his options now. He doesn't just go for the first option; he scans the field a lot now."

And from offensive coordinator Chad Morris: "After watching Cole the last few years, the thing that's made Cole so consistent is his ability to find all his reads. We all know Cole's not going to beat you with his feet - he's just not. But he's smart, and he has the ability to hit checkdowns."

Boyd's career passing efficiency of 155.2 is the highest in Clemson history. No. 2 on the list? Stoudt, at 145.1, as he's completed 72 percent of his attempts when mopping up with a big lead.

"Coach always emphasizes, completions, completions, completions," Stoudt said. "Just get your team down the field, even if it's just a little 3-yard throw, anything to get your team going. Throughout the spring, I think I've really improved my reads and getting chemistry with all the players."

It's clear on the field and in media interviews Stoudt's got his teammates' respect, which he'll look to strengthen throughout player-led summer sessions.

"I've just got to keep focusing on making myself the best I can be for this team," Stoudt said. "Go out there and make everybody better, not just myself. Get them going, be a leader, find other leaders on the team, and bond all summer.

"(We'll) come back in the fall and light it up. We're going to take off running and have one heck of a season."