The news got worse for Clemson on Monday, as the school announced starting tight end Sam Cooper and backup quarterback Chad Kelly had each torn their anterior crucial ligaments in the spring game this past weekend.
While the news on Kelly was expected, the news on Cooper came as more of a surprise. Following the game Saturday, coach Dabo Swinney did not believe the Cooper injury to be as serious. But further tests revealed the tear. Now, the Tigers go into 2013 short at both positions.
There is no timetable yet for their return.
“This is very difficult for both players," Swinney said in a statement. "Both had really worked hard and done well this spring. As far as Sam Cooper is concerned, this was certainly going to be his time at tight end. We have had quite a run of production at tight end the last few years with Michael Palmer, Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford."
Cooper was injured after making a 5-yard yard reception from Kelly on the 11th play of the scrimmage. Kelly, who was competing for the backup quarterback job with Cole Stoudt, was hurt nine plays later at the end of a 17-yard run. Kelly finished the day 6-of-7 for 43 yards and a touchdown, and had four carries for 23 yards.
Clemson now has two scholarship quarterbacks for 2013 -- starter Tajh Boyd and Stoudt. Without Cooper, all eyes turn to true freshman Jordan Leggett, an early enrollee who turned some heads this spring. Leggett had seven catches for 97 yards and the game-winning touchdown catch in the spring game.
Clemson tight ends have caught 218 passes for 2,474 yards and 32 touchdowns over the past four years. Clemson has had the first-team All-ACC tight end three of the last four years. Dwayne Allen won the John Mackey Award in 2011 as the nation’s top tight end.
"Sam is the most experienced tight end we have and this is a tough loss," Swinney said. "He was coming into his own. We have some young, talented tight ends who are now going to have to step up."
Offensive lineman Kalon Davis also suffered a knee injury in the first quarter, but his injury is not serious.