FORT LAUDERDALE — Joe Milton has started three games for Tennessee. Cade Klubnik has yet to start for Clemson.
Meet the starting quarterbacks in the Orange Bowl on Friday night when Tennessee (10-2, No. 6 in the College Football Playoff, No. 6 in AP) takes on Clemson (11-2, No. 7 in CFP) No. 10, Associated Press No. 10).
The team relied heavily on the support of others — Hendon Hooker led Tennessee for most of the season before a season-ending injury, and DJ Uiagalelei was Clemson’s quarterback until Klubnick was in the Atlantic. The Coast Conference Championship Game took over and never looked back. For Milton and Klubnick, their final game of the 2022 season could serve as a springboard into the 2023 season.
“In life, you have to learn,” Milton said. “On my mirror in Knoxville, Tennessee, I have a saying that says never stop learning because life never stops teaching. I look at it almost every day when I brush my teeth and wash my face. It’s one of the things I hold dear , because it’s life—things will happen. You’re going to face adversity. I’ve had adversity twice, and I’ve learned a lot from it.”
Milton was once a starter at Michigan; it lasted five games. He moved to Tennessee and became a starter; that span lasted three games. He got another chance, and what he did on Friday could go a long way in deciding who will lead the Vols next year.
“I think he really stepped up and brought the team together,” Tennessee catcher Ramelle Ketton said. “He made sure we were focused. He was serious, and you could tell he was trying to get things done to win. I feel like it got everyone more focused, got everyone ready to really play and ready to win.”
There’s no doubting who Clemson’s future is at quarterback. Klubnick’s time has come.
That was evident when he led the Tigers to a win over North Carolina in the ACC title game, and it became official when Uiagalelei entered the transfer portal — no surprise. The Tigers are projected to return with a full load in 2023, especially on the offensive end, and Klubnick can’t wait to get started.
“My confidence comes from preparation,” Klubnick said. “And I love the game. So, when I’m hanging out, I think another transformation happens that I can’t really control. It just happens. Just another part of me comes out and I hang out. “
A year earlier, he had just entered Clemson as an early enrollee. Now, he’s a starter in the Orange Bowl.
“I didn’t expect this to happen,” Klubnick said.
He replaced Uiagalelei on Clemson’s third down, completing his first 10 passes in a 39-10 win over North Carolina in the ACC title game, leading the Tigers on their first three downs of the game Both were touchdowns and went 20-for-24 for 279 yards.
“This guy is swagger,” said Clemson defensive coordinator Tim Banks. “Strong arm, quick release, and he’s athletic. He really is. We knew we had to be at the top of the game to contain this guy. He’s like Clemson football to me. the future of.”
Milton is on the season with 34 of 54 carries for 720 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
“He’s very conscious in his preparation,” Volunteers offensive coordinator Joey Haltz said. “It wasn’t too big for him. He didn’t change himself, but at the same time he understood the new role he had to lead this team. He did a really good job of not letting this moment get too big for him. .”