Most of the players in Clemson’s 2020 signing class, which currently ranks No. 1 nationally, have already arrived on campus and started their college careers.
Fifteen of the Tigers’ 23 signees enrolled early in January, giving themselves a chance to get ahead of the game and enabling them to go through spring practice as they look to make an instant impact in the fall.
In the second installment of our Impact Freshmen series detailing Clemson’s midyear enrollees, The Clemson Insider takes an in-depth look at quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.
Hometown (High School): Inland Empire, California (St. John Bosco)
Height, Weight: 6-5, 243
Prospect ratings/rankings: 5-star, No. 1 pro-style QB, No. 1 state, No. 2 national (247Sports); 5-star, No. 1 pro-style QB, No. 1 state, No. 3 national (Rivals); 4-star, No. 1 pocket passer, No. 3 state, No. 43 national (ESPN)
High school stats/accolades: Played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 4, 2020 in San Antonio … National Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American by USA Today in 2018 as a junior … threw for 10,496 yards in his high school career and had 127 career touchdowns against just 11 interceptions … completed 585-of-871 passes for a 66-percent completion mark … averaged 18 yards per completion … also rushed for 1,103 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career, a 6.1 yard-per-carry average… completed 222-of-344 passes for 4,225 yards and 48 touchdowns against just two interceptions in 2019, averaging 19 yards per completion and 12.3 yards per attempt … added 412 yards rushing and eight touchdowns … as a junior, completed 179-of-257 passes for 3,366 yards and 48 touchdowns against just seven interceptions on the year and added 50 carries for 312 yards and six rushing touchdowns … as a sophomore in 2017, completed 184-of-270 passes for 2,905 yards and 31 touchdowns against just two interceptions … posted 67 rushes for 379 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore
Strengths: Clemson now has another generational talent at the quarterback position in Uiagalelei, who is special with both his arm and his legs. Lean and physically strong at 6-foot-5 and about 240 pounds, Uiagalelei has a rocket for a right arm and can throw darts and launch passes downfield with ease. In addition to his elite arm strength, Uiagalelei has also shown the ability to consistently throw the football with accuracy all over the field and put touch on the ball when he needs to. What makes Uiagalelei even more dangerous is his running ability, which he uses in the zone-read game, on designed runs and to scramble and extend plays. Uiagalelei also possesses the intangibles that make a great quarterback. He is a leader and a winner as evidenced throughout his prep career, especially this past season when he led St. John Bosco to a 13-1 record and the 7A state championship in California. In the state championship game on Dec. 14, Uiagalelei completed 24-of-29 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 67 yards on five carries and scoring another touchdown on the ground. Uiagalelei has undeniable NFL potential and could also be an early round MLB Draft pick as a pitcher with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball.
How he fits in: Uiagalelei is even more of a special player in the sense that he wanted to play for the Tigers, knowing full well what the quarterback situation is with Trevor Lawrence there. Uiagalelei is not afraid to compete and will be able to do just that in spring practice, having enrolled at Clemson in early January. A year to be around Lawrence and learn from him figures to be very beneficial for Uiagalelei. With Lawrence expected to head to the NFL after his upcoming junior season, there will be a real opportunity for Uiagalelei to earn the starting role in 2021. It takes a great quarterback to win a national championship, and Uiagalelei has a chance to follow in the footsteps of Lawrence and Deshaun Watson in that regard. As far as baseball is concerned, we have reported that Uiagalelei will not play for Monte Lee’s team this season as he concentrates all of his efforts on football this spring. However, as of now, Uiagalelei still plans to play baseball in the future for the Tigers.
Coach speak: Clemson quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter on Uiagalelei — “First thing that you notice is how strong his arm is. I mean, it’s incredible. I don’t know if I’ve seen a guy that has quite the arm strength that he does. Obviously every time a kid comes in, you try to tweak a few things technically. So, we’ll work on that this spring a little bit. But the main thing for him is to really dive into the playbook and really learn it. Once you do that, your confidence level just gets higher and higher.”
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on Uiagalelei — “He’s got a skill set that’s just special and unique. Some similarities to some of these guys that we’ve had, but he’s unique in his own way and I’m excited to see him. I bet you we have a sellout for the spring game. We don’t sell anything, but I bet you we have a packed house for the spring game to see him out there. It’s going to be fun to see these quarterbacks slinging it. So I’m excited about it, and great addition.”
TCI’s previous Impact Freshmen articles:
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