Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, one of Clemson’s heralded true freshmen, hit the field on Wednesday for his first practice as a college player.
Spring practice got underway for the Tigers at the Poe Indoor Facility, and head coach Dabo Swinney enjoyed watching the former five-star recruit throw the ball around for the first time in a Clemson uniform.
“Oh yeah. It’s fun to watch him, especially live,” Swinney said of Uiagalelei after the Tigers wrapped up their opening practice. “I’ve seen him many, many times on tape. So, he can sling it.”
Rising junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence thought Uiagalelei showed well in his practice debut and has been impressed by his demeanor and aptitude for learning on the fly.
“He looks good,” Lawrence said. “Just kind of the way he carries himself, I feel like we’re similar in that way. So, we’ve got a good relationship, and obviously he’s a great player. He’s picking it up quick. That’s the one thing I can tell is just he knows football. He gets it. It clicks quick with him. Even though he doesn’t know all the plays yet, when he sees them once or twice he’s already learning them and getting them down. So really smart, just a natural, he’s got a knack for the game. So, he’s going to be great.”
Uiagalelei, listed at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, showed up on campus in January as a physically mature midyear enrollee.
“He’s huge. He’s full grown already,” Lawrence said. “He doesn’t have to put on any weight or anything, so it’s a little different from me. But obviously he’s a great player, great guy.”
Lawrence says he has taken Uiagalelei under his wing since the former St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) star joined the team a month ago.
“For sure,” Lawrence said. “Obviously we’ve been meeting as quarterbacks and as an offense a few times together, but I’ve taken the QBs in there probably a couple of times a week to get in there and start looking at some of the install because it comes quick. When practice starts, it starts piling, so just trying to get him started on that and get him thinking before it gets here.
“So we’ve done a lot of that, and like I said he’s picking it up quick. He’s going to get it, it’s just a matter of practicing it and repping it. It’s not going to be perfect in the spring. I went through the same thing. So just practicing it, and he’ll get better every day.”
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