Focused on the present

CLEMSON - Cole Stoudt wants the Orange Bowl to be his final game as Clemson's No. 2 quarterback. But he won't get too far ahead of himself.

After spending the last three seasons as Tajh Boyd's understudy, Cole Stoudt realizes he can't allow his focus to shift to the impending battle with Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson, which starts just days after the team returns from Miami.

"I think about that every now and then. But, really, right now, I'm just kind of focusing on this bowl game," Stoudt said. "I don't want to think too far ahead. If you do that, you can lose focus on the little things.

"So, right now, I'm going to focus on the little things of just this bowl game. At practice, getting better and getting ready for this game. After that, we'll worry about everything else."

Stoudt has strengthened his resume with a strong junior campaign. This season, he's completed 47 of 59 passes for 415 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions and rushed for 58 yards and two scores.

"I think it's, so far, been my best season," Stoudt said. "I've still got a lot to improve on. I'm nowhere near perfect. I'm happy with my season."

Season No. 3 at Clemson will end with an Orange Bowl appearance against the school from the state where Stoudt spent a considerable portion of his life.

"I've always wanted to play Ohio State," he said. "Grew up, for about 10 years, a Buckeye fan, came down south, back to where I was born. It's kind of weird playing for a team where you born, playing against a team where you kind of lived there for a while."

Several of his former teammates at Dublin Coffman High School have played for the Buckeyes. Kyle Clinton, Stoudt's classmate, is the backup kicker. And, of course, plenty of friends and former teammates are normal, everyday students at Ohio State.

"It's cool playing against a team that you had a couple of people from high school actually go there, even people who aren't playing football, but are also there at the school," Stoudt said. "‘Hey, I'm so excited for this game, I don't who to route for. Should I go for someone I played with in high school or should I route for the school I'm actually going to?' It's cool getting all of those stories from those guys."

A three-star prospect in 2011, Stoudt was recruited by Ohio State, but never received an offer.

"I went to a couple of camps. I went to a few with Braxton [Miller]. I saw that they were looking at him, he was about to commit there, so I just started branching out somewhere else," Stoudt said. "Then, I got a call from here. I was excited to come back down to my home state."


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