As a part of a feature story that was previously recorded on ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday, Clemson fans and College Football fans around the country alike got to know D.J. Uiagalelei a bit better.
ESPN’s Jen Lada interviewed Uiagalelei, spoke with his mother at length and also sat down with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
“He’s got attributes of all the great ones I’ve been around,” Swinney said. “Love of the game. Love of preparation. Football I.Q. Character. Leadership. But, I’ve never had one 6-5, 250.”
That’s what makes him special, but also different.
As Lada states, Uiagalelei prides himself on being “unpredictable.”
Hailing from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower (Calif.), Uiagalelei opted to commit to a program in Clemson that’s over 2,000 miles away from home.
“I like to be different,” Uiagalelei said. “I like to be unique. When everyone’s going right, I’ll probably go left.”
Saturday’s marquee matchup against Georgia will not be Uiagalelei’s first career start. Though, Swinney claimed that he could’ve been the starting quarterback for at least 126 programs around the country.
Instead, he chose to sit behind Trevor Lawrence and learn. Uiagalelei got to see some unexpected playing time last season and made the most of his opportunity when Lawrence wound up being sidelined for two games after a bout with COVID-19.
“He really wanted to work with Trevor for a year and that just shows you why and how he thinks,” Swinney said.
In two starts against Notre Dame and Boston College, Uiagalelei completed 77 of 117 passes (66.7%) with 914 passing yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
What would it mean for Uiagalelei to have his name become a household one?
“That would be a cool accomplishment to have,” he said. “For people to know your last name like ‘Dang, that’s D.J. with the cool last name: Uiagalelei.’ It would be amazing.”
He’ll have that chance under the bright lights on Saturday night against Georgia at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte (NC.) at 7:30 p.m.