Trevor Lawrence has officially moved on and turned his focus to the 2021 NFL Draft. That means D.J. Uiagalelei has turned his focus on to being Clemson’s new starting quarterback.
The transition from Lawrence to Uiagalelei should be a much smoother one than it was three years ago when Lawrence came to Clemson to ultimately take over for Deshaun Watson. There was a gap year in between Watson and Lawrence, one in which Kelly Bryant held the quarterback position in 2017.
But Lawrence eventually took the job from Bryant as a freshman in 2018 and guided the Tigers to a national championship later that season.
However, the competition between Bryant and Lawrence became uncomfortable at the end, which eventually led to Bryant leaving the program after Dabo Swinney named Lawrence the starter against Syracuse in Week 5.
But there is no competition at the quarterback position this year, even though Swinney might try to claim there is. Uiagalelei will be the man, barring any injury. Behind the 6-foot-4, 250-pound rising sophomore will be redshirt freshman Taisun Phommachanh.
Right now, when the Tigers head into the spring walk-on Hunter Helms is listed as the third string quarterback, followed by fellow walk-on James Talton.
D.J. Uiagalelei, So., 6-4, 250: As a true freshman, Uiagalelei played very well in the two games Lawrence missed due to COVID-19, leading the Tigers to the greatest come-from-behind victory at Death Valley in school history, as he rallied Clemson from an 18-point deficit to beat Boston College, 34-28 on Oct. 31. A week later, even in a loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, he played great, throwing for 439 yards, the most ever against an Irish defense. He nearly willed an outmanned Clemson team to victory in a double-overtime defeat. In his two starts, 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.
Taisun Phommachanh, *So., 6-3, 220: Enters 2021 having completed 11-of-29 passes for 73 yards and having rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries in seven career games. Last year, he completed 5-of-17 passes for 17 yards and rushed seven times for 25 yards in 43 snaps over four games. In 2019, he played in three games while redshirting, completing 6-of-12 passes for 56 yards and rushing for 56 yards on 12 carries.
Hunter Helms, *Fr., 6-1, 210: A walk-on, Helms impressed with a two-touchdown performance at Georgia Tech as a true freshman. He enters 2021 having completed 9-of-12 passes for 77 yards and two scores after playing in three games.
James Talton, *Fr., 6-0, 185: Talton was a walk-on in 2020 and served as the scout team quarterback.
––Clemson Athletic Communications contributed to this story