With the new name, image, and likeness rules finally coming into play, thousands of college athletes across the country are getting the opportunity to create a brand for themselves. For Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, this is a long time coming.
While his father, Big Dave, has long been promoting his son’s career, he is now ready to give over the reins.
“As everyone who knows D.J. knows, he is one of the most humble, respectful kids out there and to me as a father, you know, he’s 20 years old now, so I definitely leave it up to him now,” Big Dave told Fox Sports’ Jordan Campbell on Tuesday. “We’ve already been preparing for this moment for a long time, [since] about two years ago, so we’ve had our ducks lined even though we didn’t really know what it was going to be, but I knew it was going to be for the players, them being able to benefit from their name, image, and likeness. For me, with my kids and how I promoted them, this started in 2009.”
For Uiagalelei, it all started when his son was in elementary school. While other kids were out playing on the playground, DJ was out playing football with kids who were almost twice his age. This was when Big Dave knew that the talent his son had was going to be something very special and he was determined to see that talent blossom into the star athlete he is today.
“I saw it when he was nine years old,” Uiagalelei said. “At the time, it was between eight and nine [years old] and D.J. was playing peewee. Mind you, D.J. was just out of the third grade and he was playing with sixth and seventh graders, so that right there showed me and told me that, listen, I don’t have an average kid here.”
“How are you in third grade and playing with sixth and seventh graders. You talk about a kid who, D.J., a third grader looking for a playground to play with other kids while these sixth and seventh graders are looking for girls to talk to, so totally different mental mindset, but his talent and his abilities, I saw that he was able to hang and play at this level, and I knew then. People back then thought I was crazy, but I knew D.J. had the potential to be the number one quarterback in high school.”
Knowing the caliber of talent that his son possessed, Uiagalelei did everything he could to give his son the best opportunities and to help jump start his growth, even going as far as attending a high school camp as a fourth grader, but the young phenom rose to the challenge, not missing a beat.
“What the Big Dave blueprint is about, it was everything I did to try and make sure that my son could maximize his every opportunity to be the best he could be,” the Clemson starter’s father said. “Then I did things that stepped out the box, like not normal things of a fourth grader. I took D.J. to a high school camp for ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders. I have video of it, I have pictures of it. DJ was in fourth grade when we went to this camp, but no one knew he was a fourth grader. Back then, D.J. didn’t know how to lie, he wouldn’t even know how to, so I told him when they ask you, don’t say anything, they’ll just assume you’re a ninth grader.”
“So, he goes out there and he’s out there swinging the ball, but no one knows he was slinging a youth ball. Those are the things that I did because I saw the potential in my kids. I didn’t follow any blueprint or book out there saying this is what a fourth grader should be doing. No, I knew D.J. needed to be challenged and he could be where he was at because no one knew the difference. He was out there slinging just like everybody else.”
Now that he has achieved becoming the top high school quarterback in the country and is projected to be Clemson’s starter in his second year, D.J. Uiagalelei has set his sights on building his brand, recently signing a deal with Vayner Sports, continuing on the legacy of success that his father began years ago.
Clemson Variety & Frame is doing their part to help bring you some classic new barware and help one of the local businesses that helps make Clemson special.
Order your Nick’s barware and do your part to help. #SaveNicks