With Trevor Lawrence officially off to the NFL, D.J. Uiagalelei gets the keys to the Clemson offense. The good news for the Tigers is the freshman already took it for a test ride and the drive was pretty smooth with him behind the wheel.
Uiagalelei played in 10 of Clemson’s 12 games this past season, including two starts after Trevor Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 29, two days prior to the Boston College game.
In Lawrence’s place, Uiagalelei played nearly flawless, completing 59-of-85 passes (69.4 percent) for 781 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for two scores, including a 30-yard touchdown run against Boston College.
“It was definitely a silver lining that D.J. was able to get two starts under his belt, and not just two starts, but two battles. Two flat out battles,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said back in November.
All Uiagalelei did was rally Clemson from 18 points down to lead the Tigers to their greatest comeback in the history of Death Valley against Boston College. He completed 30-of-41 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns while doing it.
Then the following week, he nearly willed the Tigers to a victory at then No. 2 Notre Dame in South Bend, while completing 29-of-44 passes for two touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown in that game as well.
“That is going to pay huge dividends for him,” Swinney said. “I mean just the confidence… And certainly, for next year, having gone on the road and started in a top 5 matchup, [ESPN’s College] GameDay and all of those things against a great opponent. He not only played well, he played amazing.
“Certainly, there are things we will coach him on. But, I mean, he threw for more yards than any quarterback in history to throw on Notre Dame. Notre Dame has been playing a lot of football for a long time and has played a lot of great quarterbacks, so that is pretty special what he has able to do from that standpoint. He found a way to give us a chance to be successful and win the game.”
Uiagalelei finished his first year at Clemson completing 78 of his 117 attempts (66.7 percent) for 914 yards and five touchdowns. He also added 60 rushing yards and scored four times.
“I am really proud of him. That is definitely going to serve him well the rest of this year and into next year, no doubt,” Swinney said. “There is nothing like experience.”