D.J. Uiagalelei was the number one rated quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class and the 10th overall recruit regardless of position. He committed to Clemson even with them having Trevor Lawrence on the roster. He waited for his opportunity and showed that he could run the Tigers’ offense, and expectations were high.
Uiagalelie got his chance on the national stage, the same night a presidential election was called, and stole the spotlight. But did this QB version of Icarus fly too close to the sun? It is too soon to tell at this point.
From Chosen One to the Replaced One?
Uiagalelei got his chance to tease Clemson fans when Lawrence had COVID-19 and missed two starts. He got to start against Boston College and Notre Dame, with the latter being on the big stage and had him leading the Clemson Tigers to the upset win in South Bend. He would appear in nine games as a freshman, and he was set up for a major breakout in 2021.
Uiagalelei entered 2021 as a Heisman favorite, with the Tigers as National Championship contenders. However, the saying goes that best-laid plans often go awry, and did they in a big way. Clemson would follow up seven straight college football playoff appearances with an appearance in the Cheez-It Bowl. Uiagalelei played a big part in that. He showed concerning characteristics, the type that held him back, and the team. He would only throw nine touchdowns to ten interceptions, despite that though he did show some promise for 2022.
What You See When Watching Him
Despite his shortcomings on the film overall, he still has a very much live arm. His pitching background certainly helps in this area, similar to what Jameis Winston had at Florida State. These two players are also very similar, both skill-wise and size-wise, not to mention the career arcs in college. All of that aside, it is important to remember that having arm talent is half the battle. We may see the highest rise in the 2022 class if he can get the mental game figured out.
Coming in at 6’4″ in height and weighing 259 pounds, Uiagalelei is not a small kid by any stretch of the imagination. He has the physical traits that would have any QB coach drooling over. His former offensive coordinator though left town and is now responsible for the development of another young QB at Virginia. Will Uiagalelei return to form without Tony Elliott? Will someone else be able to get the best out of him? A big if, but an if that is worth believing in Uiagalelei for.
I will root for and look for the best in every player I watch. Chris Ballard, the general manager for the Colts, tells his staff to do the same. If I tell you what the kid can do, he can make throws to all levels of the field, and he has the physical traits that every NFL staff dreams of. He can’t move around a collapsing pocket, and his overall awareness is damning to his development.
If he can get between the ears working for him and get that sense that makes every QB great, Uiagalelei will improve overall as a prospect. If you have any devy shares, I would hold for now, but the minute he has a good game, I would cut your losses, sadly.
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