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Clemson loses starting TE, backup QB to torn ACLs

By Tom Fornelli | Staff Writer

Alabama and Virginia Tech will play for the
Sam Cooper would have been Clemson's starting tight end in 2013. (USATSI)

Orange beat White 34-26 in Clemson's spring game on Saturday, but the biggest losses in the game were tight end Sam Cooper and quarterback Chad Kelly.

Both players suffered knee injuries only nine plays apart, and Clemson confirmed on Monday that both had suffered torn ACL ligaments. The status of both for next season is unknown.

"This is very difficult for both players," said coach Dabo Swinney in the release. "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 listed atop the depth chart at tight end. And, as Swinney mentioned, that has been a very important position in the Clemson offense in recent seasons. Clemson tight ends have caught 32 touchdowns over the last four seasons and finished first-team All-ACC in three of those years.

Cooper caught 10 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns last season.

As for Kelly, he was competing with Cole Stoudt to be Tajh Boyd's backup in 2013. The nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly redshirted in 2012 and was a four-star member of Clemson's 2012 recruiting class.

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