The headlining visitor that Clemson played host to this past weekend was five-star quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei of Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco.
The nation’s top-ranked 2020 quarterback flew across the country to witness second-ranked Clemson’s win Saturday night over South Carolina at Death Valley. He arrived on campus Saturday morning and departed Monday morning. It marked his second trip to Clemson and first since June, when he visited during the Dabo Swinney Camp and received an offer from the Tigers.
Uiagalelei (6-4, 240) went in-depth with The Clemson Insider about last weekend’s visit and much more.
“I loved it out there,” he said. “It was a great visit, just to be able to go out there and see a game. That was the main thing that I wanted to do is be able to go out and see a Clemson football game. It was great to see how many people come to a game and all that goes on during a game — all the tailgating, all the fans outside before the game, how many people were in the stands and all the people interacting like six hours before the game.”
The high-profile recruit did not go unnoticed by Clemson fans as he made his way to Memorial Stadium before the game.
“There were a couple fans that recognized me,” he said. “A couple people recognized me and I took pictures with them while I was walking to the stadium. It was pretty cool.”
Uiagalelei was accompanied on the visit by his father and one of his assistant coaches at St. John Bosco.
It marked his father’s first time at Clemson, and the Tigers certainly got his stamp of approval.
“He loved it out there,” Uiagalelei said. “That was one place where I wanted my dad to be able to go see. When I was out there [the first time], I loved it, and my dad wasn’t fully on board with Clemson. He knew Clemson, but it’s way out there and he didn’t really know why I liked Clemson so much. But when he was out there, he was like wow. It kind of opened his eyes.”
The multi-day stay on campus afforded Uiagalelei ample time to be around head coach Dabo Swinney, quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter, co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and Clemson’s staff.
“I got to spend a lot of time with them, like Saturday before the game and also Sunday with Coach Streeter and Coach Elliott and Coach Dabo,” Uiagalelei said. “I ate dinner at Coach Dabo Swinney’s house with all the coaches there. It was pretty cool to be over there and have all the coaches there. And then Saturday, just being able to be with the coaches before the game and then after the game in the locker room.
“We just talked about how I fit there, just talked about all the quarterbacks that come through there. How I would be able to fit the mold of what they’re looking for in a quarterback at Clemson.”
Uiagalelei is well aware that Clemson has produced star quarterbacks such as Deshaun Watson and Tajh Boyd and has another future NFL quarterback in Trevor Lawrence – something he looks closely at when considering the Tigers.
“It’s a huge factor,” he said. “When you get to college, you want to be able to succeed to the next level. Two of them made it to the next level. Deshaun is playing with the Texans right now, and Tajh Boyd when he was in the NFL, and then Trevor Lawrence is probably going to be a three-year guy and go straight to the league… It’s important to be able to do that. But just how good the personalities those three have, how good of people they are… That’s another main thing.”
Uiagalelei has had the chance to interact with Lawrence on a couple of occasions.
“He’s a cool guy,” Uiagalelei said. “He’s a cool dude and he’s a great football player.”
Prior to visiting Clemson, Uiagalelei went to Oregon in September and Auburn in early November. He said he is unsure of his future visit plans as it stands now.
Uiagalelei confirmed that Clemson and Oregon are the frontrunners in his recruitment right now, while a few other schools have his attention as well.
“Those are definitely my top two schools right now, but there’s a couple other schools too that I really like, like Oklahoma, Alabama and LSU,” he said. “Those are three other schools that I really like.”
Uiagalelei doesn’t have a firm timetable for his decision but said he will definitely commit before the start of his senior season.
What appeals to him most when he looks at Clemson as one of his top choices?
“Just the culture that they have there and then also just the quality of people they have there,” he said. “There’s just great people out there.”
As a junior this season, Uiagalelei completed higher than 70 percent of his passes for more than 3,250 yards with 47 touchdowns and five interceptions while also rushing for over 300 yards and six more scores. He is ranked as the country’s top 2020 quarterback by all the major recruiting services and the No. 1 overall player for 2020 per Rivals.