Pair of Tigers highlighted on ESPN's Most Important Players list

Pair of Tigers highlighted on ESPN's Most Important Players list

Football

Pair of Tigers highlighted on ESPN's Most Important Players list

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On Thursday, ESPN published a list of the 25 most important players in this year’s College Football Playoff race (subscription required), highlighting players who could define the 2022 season while impacting how the national championship race shakes out.

A pair of Clemson players made ESPN’s Most Important Players list, with junior quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei the highest-ranked Tiger on it at No. 3 after being ranked No. 4 on the same list last year.

“Let’s be honest: There’s almost literally nowhere to go but up for the junior who looked so promising as a freshman fill-in in 2020 but did very little right a year ago,” ESPN Staff Writer Bill Connelly wrote. “He finished 97th in Total QBR, and you can’t even point to late-season improvement as a source of optimism — he was 98th over the second half of the season. A “game-changing leap” might barely move him into the top 50.

“Be it Uiagalelei or freshman Cade Klubnik, Clemson needs infinitely more from the QB position than it got last year. But if there’s a bright side, it’s that the Tigers won’t need a Heisman-level performance — with merely a good offense, their incredible defense should drive an ACC title run and CFP push.”

Clemson senior wide receiver Joseph Ngata also appeared on the list, coming in at No. 17.

“Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei suffered through a dire 2021 season, but for as poorly as he played, he didn’t get a ton of help either,” Connelly wrote. “He also didn’t get a full season from Ngata. The former four-star recruit produced some of Clemson’s most important early-season moments — a 44-yard catch that kept the Tigers within a touchdown of Georgia in the fourth quarter; a 54-yarder that set up Clemson’s last score in a tight win over Boston College — but missed four of the final seven games and caught just five passes after Oct. 15. If he enjoys a breakout year, so might Uiagalelei.”

Clemson, which finished the 2021 season 10-3 (6-2 ACC), is eyeing a return to the playoff after seeing its streak of six straight playoff appearances come to an end last season.

The Tigers open the 2022 season on Sept. 5 against Georgia Tech at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (8 p.m., ESPN).

Come out to support Clemson softball at Dear Old Clemson’s second event which is set for August 27 at the Madren Conference Center.  Clemson returns one of the top teams in the nation and adds some new talent to the mix.   If you sign up for certain club levels you get free access to all Dear Old Clemson events or purchase your tickets today at Dear Old Clemson.

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