Clemson true freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was informed by quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter on Friday morning, ahead of the top-ranked Tigers’ season opener at Wake Forest on Saturday night, that he had beaten out redshirt freshman Taisun Phommachanh for the backup quarterback job and would be the first signal-caller to enter the contest in place of Trevor Lawrence if he came out.
“It was pretty cool. It felt really good,” Uiagalelei said to the media Monday of earning the second-string QB role. “It felt like it was a great accomplishment. It was a great honor to be able to be awarded the second-string job and be able to go out there, but I just wanted to be able to make sure I did my part for the team, make sure I’m ready for the team to be able to do my part.”
With Clemson up big in the second half of its eventual 37-13 win over the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Tigers were able to play a bunch of backups, and they put Uiagalelei in the game late in the third quarter with a 34-point lead.
The former five-star prospect recorded his first completion as a Tiger on his second play from scrimmage – a 10-yard pass to Will Brown – and finished 2-of-3 passing for 16 yards while also rushing one time for 3 yards.
Uiagalelei’s Clemson and college football debut was a dream come true for him and the realization of a lifelong goal.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “It was something I’ve been working for my whole life. To be able to step on the field and take my first snap as a Clemson Tiger, it was just a great moment, especially for me also for my family to be able to get to watch it back home, get to see their excitement for me just being on the field. Just being able to play college football, it’s a big accomplishment for my life. I was just super excited to be out there, especially being a Tiger.”
Uiagalelei’s family was just as excited to see him play in his first college game while watching him on TV back in his home state of California.
His uncle posted a video on Twitter of the Uiagalelei family’s real-time reaction after Uiagalelei came into the game, and Uiagalelei said afterward, his mother sent him videos of her and his father watching him.
“It was super exciting seeing that, just being able to see my parents, that they got to see me on TV, they got to see me get in the game,” Uiagalelei said. “So, it was just like a surreal moment for me to be able to play at Clemson, be able to play in a game on (ABC). It was just super cool to see my family, see how excited they were. I know they’ve been dreaming of this day as well as I was.”
I think my family's Happy right now🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/VBfTjNMkGG
— Mau Uiagalelei (@mau_uiagalelei) September 13, 2020
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