No one can say Uiagalelei does not care

No one can say Uiagalelei does not care

Football

No one can say Uiagalelei does not care

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Monday Morning Quarterback

I saw something Saturday night that I have never seen before in my 17 years of covering Clemson Football.

During my time covering the Tigers, I have had the pleasure of covering Charlie Whitehurst, Tajh Boyd, Deshaun Watson, and Trevor Lawrence. They are arguably four of the greatest quarterbacks in Clemson history.

But D.J. Uiagalelei did something Saturday night none of those great quarterbacks did at Clemson. Long after he spoke with the media following the Tigers’ 19-13 victory over Boston College, the sophomore walked out on to Frank Howard Field in his workout clothes carrying a football, alongside a Clemson manager, and went to work.

It was close to midnight and his teammates were either on their way home or downtown celebrating another Homecoming win. The 79,159 fans who came to the game were long gone. The only people who remained in the stadium were the reporters coming back from Dabo Swinney’s press conference and those cleaning up the stadium.

Granted, some of you out there might say, “So what!” Or “Who cares?” Or “He needs to be out there.” Or “The other quarterbacks did not need to do it.”

I get all that, but Uiagalelei did not have to do it, either. He chose to put in the extra work because he obviously feels like he needs the work. And don’t act like the other four quarterbacks I mentioned did not have bad days, either.

I covered Whitehurst’s junior season when he completed just 50.7 percent of his passes for 2,067 yards, while throwing 17 interceptions to seven touchdowns. I witnessed Boyd complete just 59.7 percent of his passes in 2011 and his bad outings against NC State, Florida State and South Carolina during his Clemson career.

I was in Death Valley that afternoon when Watson threw three interceptions in a loss to Pittsburgh. I was in the Superdome in New Orleans when Lawrence had his worst night as a passer in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Granted, Uiagalelei is not having the kind of season we all expected. And granted, Saturday’s 13-for-27 performance for 207 yards against Boston College was not pretty. But none of us expected him to do what he did either.

I am not saying you need to praise Uiagalelei. However, you need to give him credit for carrying. There were a whole bunch of things he could have chosen to do on a Saturday night in Clemson following a victory. But instead, he felt it was more important that he get a little extra work in. He wanted to work on the throws he missed. He wants to get better.

It is obvious, Uiagalelei cares. Now some might say he cares too much, and he needs to loosen up a little. I can see that point of view.

However, I do not have any problems with a guy who cares so much he takes the time to go back on the field when he is not aware anyone is watching and puts in the extra work.

In this day and age, when so many feel they are entitled to everything, it was refreshing to see a young man out there, on his own, working hard to get better.

Football season has finally arrived. Time to represent your Tigers and show your stripes!

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