Even before Super Bowl LV was completed, a lot of talk in the football world has centered on two former Clemson quarterbacks.
Deshaun Watson’s desire to want out of Houston has dominated most of the NFL news, while Trevor Lawrence’s injured left shoulder and subsequence pro day have taken some of the other.
But in the next couple of weeks, another Clemson quarterback will steal headlines.
When D.J. Uiagalelei steps onto the practice field at the Poe Indoor Practice Facility in Clemson, all eyes will be one him, as he takes over at position that has produced two Heisman runner ups in the last six years.
Since Watson’s freshman year in 2014, Clemson was 66-5 with one of those two behind center. They led the Tigers to five of its six straight ACC Championships, four national championship game appearances and two national championships.
In between, they have combined for more than 20,000 yards and 180 touchdown passes. Those are big shoes to step into. However, if there was anyone who was born to continue the quarterback legacy it was Uiagalelei.
Clemson fans got a good glimpse of what the future might hold with Uiagalelei at quarterback in 2020.
The true freshman played very well in the two games Lawrence missed, 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.
“And certainly, for next year, having gone on the road and started in a top 5 matchup, GameDay and all of those things against a great opponent. He not only played well, but he played amazing,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said prior to the end of the season. “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 been 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 with no interceptions. He also added 60 rushing yards and scored four times in the 10 games he played in.
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