Winter 2022 magazine

No. 1 QB recruit Cade Klubnik set for Clemson after 3rd straight state title, says he's 'playing for God'

When the Clemson football program officially revealed its latest recruiting class last week, the coaches didn’t hold back in their praise for Cade Klubnik, the nation’s No. 1 quarterback recruit.

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“He’s special. He’s magic,” head coach Dabo Swinney said.

“I’m fired up about Cade,” offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter said. “He fits this place perfectly. Fits it with the culture, with his character and he’s a talented kid.”

He’s a proven winner, too. After officially signing his letter of intent last week — which he posted about on social media, along with the Bible verse Ephesians 5:20 — Klubnik on Saturday led Westlake High School (Austin, Texas) to its third straight state championship in football, becoming the first team in the six-classification era of Texas high school sports to win three. Klubnik went 14-for-21 for 280 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in the 40-21 win over Guyer High School. 

Westlake had not trailed all season until Guyer took a 7-6 lead and was behind 14-13 at halftime. Klubnik overcame his first-half struggles to engineer 27 points after the break. He connected with wide receiver Jaden Greathouse on touchdown strikes of 69 and 71 yards to help the Chaparrals pull away. 

“[Klubnik] is such a leader and such a great player,” Westlake head coach Todd Dodge — who had previously announced he would be retiring at the end of the season — said after the win. “He’s the best.”

Klubnik missed time during the season due to a shoulder injury but returned in time to ensure his high school career ended on a 40-game winning streak, as he served as the team’s starter for two years.

He is the latest in a long list of elite quarterbacks produced by Westlake, including Drew Brees, Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger, and leaves as Westlake’s all-time leading passer.

Through his rise to football stardom, Klubnik says his faith has been an integral part of the way he lives, and his walk began when he was a child.

“I gave my life to the Lord at a young age with my dad when I was younger,” he said on Sports Spectrum’s “Weekly Slant” in October. “We go to a great church here in Austin. It’s definitely just something that has just always been a part of my life.”

Klubnik finds that focusing on playing for an audience of One helps him handle the pressure of being a five-star recruit about to join a national power.

“I don’t feel any pressure because I know when I’m out there, I’m not playing for anybody that’s trying to judge me,” he said on the “Weekly Slant.” “I’m not playing for any of them. I’m not playing for the media. I’m not playing for Coach Swinney. I’m not playing for my own head coach. I’m playing for God.”

Klubnik often references his faith on social media and included Proverbs 3:5 in the caption of his post announcing his commitment to Clemson. The verse says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

 

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A post shared by Cade Klubnik (@cadeklubnik_6)

The strong faith of Swinney and many of his assistants was one of the aspects that attracted Klubnik to Clemson. Swinney’s handling of the recruiting process made Klubnik sure it was where he wanted to be.

“You can just tell there’s something different about the guy,” Klubnik said of his future coach. “You see the energy that he has. It’s so much different than anybody else when it comes to college football. Just the love that he has for people.”

Klubnik is set to graduate from high school early before joining the Tigers’ quarterback room on Jan. 9 as Clemson begins preparations for next season.

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