Following one of Clemson’s spring practices in early April, head coach Dabo Swinney made a statement about D.J. Uiagalelei that says a lot about the freshman quarterback’s tremendous talent.
It’s not every day another quarterback can make Trevor Lawrence look normal, but that is what Uiagalelei did at times during Clemson’s nine spring practices, according to his head coach.
“D.J. is, he is just an unbelievable talent. He is just unbelievable,” Swinney said. “To see a guy that big, he sometimes makes Trevor — and we all know what type of arm Trevor has — and sometimes he makes Trevor just kind of look normal with his ability to just rip that football.
“It is unbelievable. It really is, and then oh by the way, he is 6-5, 245 pounds and can move.”
Lawrence, widely considered the top quarterback in college football, agreed with that sentiment from Swinney while speaking to reporters Friday following the Tigers’ second practice of fall camp.
“He’s so talented, and like Coach Swinney said, that’s probably accurate,” Lawrence said. “I mean, some of the balls he throws, and just super strong arm … He’s just a good player. Good instincts, even though he hasn’t quite figured out all the offense yet because he just got here. But he just is a good, natural player. Can run, make people miss, obviously can escape, do everything you really need at the quarterback position.”
Uiagalelei – the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 3 overall prospect in the country coming out of high school according to Rivals – threw for 10,496 yards during his prep career at St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) and had 127 career touchdowns against just 11 interceptions. The Inland Empire, Calif., native also rushed for 1,103 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career, a 6.1 yard-per-carry average.
Lawrence recognizes that Uiagalelei is special not only because of his skills as a quarterback, but also the fact he chose to come to Clemson in spite of the quarterback situation with Lawrence locked in as the starter for another season, when Uiagalelei could have started right away at many other programs around the country.
The two QBs have built a good rapport since Uiagalelei enrolled at Clemson in January, and Lawrence is serving as a mentor of sorts for the freshman phenom.
“It’s been fun to just be in meeting rooms with him, try to help him learn,” Lawrence said. “Really, it’s good to have a guy like that who came here, wasn’t promised anything, came into a situation that most people probably wouldn’t. It’s been cool to be in the meeting room with him, him soak up everything, ask me questions, and we’re really just bouncing things off each other.”
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