When spring practices came to a close this past April, D.J. Uiagalelei said he was going to do two things by the time fall camp started.
The first was to go back and study himself from the spring and see how he can make himself a better quarterback. The second was to make sure everyone in the quarterback room was ready as well.
Was Uiagalelei’s summer a success? He thinks so.
The Clemson quarterback says he and the rest of the guys in his position room are ready for what’s next as the Tigers open fall camp on Friday behind the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson.
Though Uiagalelei has things anchored down as the starter, all eyes will be on the backup situation as Dabo Swinney and the coaches desperately hope they can have Hunter Helms, Will Taylor and Billy Wiles ready by the start of the season.
Helms is the only one of the three to participate in spring practice. The former walk-on redshirted last season, though he did see a little action in mop-up duty.
The coaches really like the way Helms competes. They think he has a chance to be someone they can count on, but as Swinney said after the Spring Game, “He is still a developing guy.”
“Hunter has been there as long as me, so he knows the offense really well,” Uiagalelei said. “He is getting better every day.”
Taylor and Wiles are both true freshmen, who arrived at Clemson in late June. Taylor is a two-sport athlete, who the coaches think can also help the team in the future at wide receiver. But for the time being, he is a quarterback.
Wiles is a walk-on from Virginia.
“They have really picked up the offense well. I am super proud of them,” Uiagalelei said. “They are doing a really good job. They are taking a hold of the offense and getting a grasp of it and just really coming into their own.”
Clemson could have a fourth backup quarterback, and perhaps the most important one, in the mix when camp starts. Uiagalelei said at the ACC Football Kickoff on July 22, redshirt sophomore Taisun Phommachanh could be ready for a return by the Tigers’ home opener against S.C. State on Sept. 11.
Swinney, nor quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter, had a timeline on when Phommachanh could return after tearing his Achilles tendon in the final moments of the Spring Game on April 3. However, Swinney did say they will get him back sometime this coming fall.
Phommachanh played in four games last year and was expected to be the Tigers’ backup before he suffered his injury with just over a minute to play in the Spring Game.
The Tigers kick off the season on Sept 4 in Charlotte when it takes on Georgia in the Duke’s Mayo Kickoff Classic from Bank of America Stadium.