Taisun Phommachanh provides Georgia Tech with intriguing QB battle ahead of crucial season for Geoff Collins

The quarterback league at Georgia Tech got into some intrigue Monday night, when former Clemson quarterback Taisun Phommachanh announced his commitment to the Yellow Jackets as a transfer. A former four-star prospect of the 2019 class, Phommachanh played in 12 games over three seasons with the Tigers, serving as a backup to Trevor Lawrence and DJ Uiagalelei.

Phommachanh could spark a Georgia Tech program seeking a shock under fourth-year coach Geoff Collins. He completed 22 of 48 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions during his career with Clemson and also rushed 30 times for 150 yards. The Connecticut native must qualify for the Yellow Jackets for at least two more seasons.

While his career stats are disappointing, Phommachanh faced productivity hurdles at Clemson due to talent in the quarterback room and also due to an Achilles tendon injury he sustained in the 2021 spring game. At Georgia Tech, he will still have to deal with stiff competition to win the runway, but at a time when position is uncertain.

Redshirt sophomore Jeff Sims is Georgia Tech’s incumbent quarterback after showing a mix of talent and inconsistency in two seasons. In 2021, Sims split reruns with Jordan Yates, who has since switched to Sam Houston. In addition to Sims, Phommachanh will also have to compete with red shirt sophomore Zach Gibson, an Akron transfer from the Atlanta area who showed promise with the Zips last season as he threw 10 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Phommachanh has the least playing experience of the trio, but according to the 247Sports Composite, he was the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in his recruiting class. If he were to win the runway during the preseason preparation, his first start would be against his old team as Georgia Tech will start the season on September 5 against Clemson.

Georgia Tech looking for answers

Georgia Tech is 9-25 so far under Collins, who was tasked with transitioning the program from the options-based offense it ran for 11 seasons under former coach Paul Johnson. While progress was expected to be slow as Collins changed the roster to fit into a more standard offensive schedule, the 2021 season will be big for the former Temple coach.

He brought in former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long and landed a former 1,000-yard rusher in Dylan McDuffie to help soften the loss of the star who drove Jahmyr Gibbs back to Alabama. But with a brutal no-conference schedule that includes Georgia, Ole Miss, and UCF, qualifying for bowls will be a drag. By bringing in Phommachanh, Collins is leaving no stone unturned in his quest for quarterback productivity.

Rehabilitation of Phommachanh

Last year around this time, Clemson’s quarterback depth became a subject of off-season speculation after Phommachanh suffered an Achilles tendon. After such a serious injury, it seemed unlikely that Phommachanh could challenge Uiagalelei to the runway, or even be available as a backup in 2021. But Phommachanh quickly recovered what Clemson coach Dabo described Swinney as “one of those wonders.”

Finally, Phommachanh was ready for the start of the season and ended up playing some non-dirty snaps amid Uiagalelei’s struggles. With the injury over a year behind him, Phommachanh could be better equipped to withstand the rigors of Power Five football. If nothing else, he gets a fresh start with the Yellow Jackets, who are suddenly forced to see one of the country’s more intriguing quarterback fights.

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