Swinney expects dual-sport star back at QB

Whitt Miller, 4, gets his picture taken with Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney at the USC Aiken Convocation Center on Tuesday.

AIKEN --- Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney is paying attention to June 7.


That's when the Major League Baseball draft begins, and the Tigers are keeping an eye on it for one reason: Kyle Parker.

After leading Clemson to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on the football field, Parker has proven to be a dual threat on the collegiate level this year. A junior first baseman/outfielder, Parker is having a breakout year in baseball and is improving his stock as a prospect -- a fact Swinney is aware of.

"It's a compliment to him that he's capable of being a dominant player in two sports," Swinney said Tuesday night at the Aiken Prowl & Growl at the USC Aiken Convocation Center. "But until he gets drafted, there's no sense in worrying about it.

"Right now, I anticipate him being under center for the Tigers."

After redshirting at quarterback two seasons ago, Parker helped lead Clemson to a 9-5 record. The Tigers won their first Atlantic Division title, appeared in their first ACC championship game and won the Music City Bowl.

Parker completed 55 percent of his passes for 2,526 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. If he returns for his sophomore season on the gridiron, he'll make Clemson a more explosive team, Swinney said.

"He's just a confident, seasoned guy," Swinney said. "There's nothing like talented experience.

"Without him, we'll have to start a freshman all over again. Tajh Boyd is just going to be a phenomenal player, but he's not there yet."

Swinney might not have to insert Boyd, a redshirt freshman. However, Parker has proven to be one of the top baseball players in the ACC this season. He is hitting .367 with a league-leading 16 homers and 43 RBI in 150 at-bats.

Swinney already has his hands full trying to replace C.J. Spiller, a first-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills. Spiller rushed for 1,212 yards and 12 touchdowns, caught 36 passes for 503 yards and four scores and also posted 965 yards of punt and kick return yardage with five more touchdowns.

Running backs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper, who combined for more than 900 yards rushing last season, will share the offensive load.

"It's not fair to ask one guy to replace him," Swinney said. "Part of him being able to produce was we gave him the ball in a lot of different ways.

"This year, I think we'll be a more evenly-distributed team."

After his first full season on the job, Swinney said his team has a better understanding of what to do. And he saw the program make strides last year.

"We accomplished a lot of our objectives," he said. "We're a lot tougher team. We're a closer team. We improved our tempo. And we did some things that we never had done."

"We got better. And we built a foundation."



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