On an offense that has what he calls the best set of wide receivers Clemson has ever had, and a deep and talented pool of running backs and tight ends, Dabo Swinney says the key to the Tigers’ success in 2021 will be replacing Trevor Lawrence at quarterback.
And he feels great about who they have in line to do it.
Swinney says D.J. Uiagalelei is not only good enough to replace Lawrence, but he might be a future No. 1 overall pick in an NFL Draft.
“We think he could be the first pick in the draft in a couple of years,” the Clemson head coach said last week on the Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin Show on ESPN Radio. “He has that type of ability in him. He has to go do it and all of that, but he has that type of upside. I love what I saw in him last year and this spring. He needs a great summer.”
Lawrence is expected to be the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft when it gets started in Cleveland on Thursday. The Jacksonville Jaguars own this year’s first pick.
As for Uiagalelei, he started two games last season when Lawrence was unable to play due to testing positive for COVID-19. 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 double overtime 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 and banged up Clemson team to victory.
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.
“He got two starts and really performed well,” Swinney said. “He got some good experience throughout the season. We are excited about him.”
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