For the better part of the last decade Clemson produced some of the best quarterbacks in the nation.
Under head coach Dabo Swinney, Tajh Boyd upped the standard of quarterback play for the Tigers and Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence again took that to new heights as they each won a national championship game. All three earned First Team All-America honors for the way they led the offense in orange and white.
This year the Tigers change signal callers again after the Jaguars selected Trevor Lawrence with the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
But for D.J. Uiagalelei the standard at Clemson remains the same, to be the best in the sport.
“Shoot. My goal is to go 15-0 and win a national championship so that’s my goal to be able to do that,” Uiagalelei said at the ACC Kickoff on Thursday. “I want to hit the ground running, start off fast and stay fast.”
Uiagalelei certainly hit the ground running in his freshman campaign with a pair of critical starts for the Tigers when Lawrence missed time due to virus protocols. The California-native looked exceptional as he brought Clemson back from behind in starts at No. 4 Notre Dame and at home against Boston College.
He completed 29-of-44 passes for 439 and two touchdowns in his first start in South Bend, Ind. as Clemson fell 47-40 to the Irish in double overtime. The next week Uiagalelei brought the Tigers back from a 28-10 deficit against Boston College completing 30-of-41 passes for 342 yards and to earn his first win 34-28.
“It’s a true honor there have been great quarterbacks here since Tajh Boyd and even before him. Just the line of quarterback we have had the past couple of years is amazing,” Uiagalelei said. “So being able to come in this quarterback legacy at Clemson University is a true honor and a blessing. I want to uphold that standard, best is the standard here at Clemson and I want to do that.”
Uiagalelei dreamed of playing under center for the Tigers for a while and finally holding the position is a dream come true. But he made it clear that playing quarterback for Swinney is earned not given.
“This is kind of surreal it’s definitely something that I’ve always wanted and dreamed of being a starting quarterback and the starter at Clemson,” Uiagalelei said. “It’s definitely been a long time coming and I feel like I put enough work in to be here.”