With leading Heisman Trophy candidate Trevor Lawrence sidelined by COVID-19, Uiagalelei has to lead the top-ranked Tigers into South Bend, Indiana, on Saturday night to play No. 4 Notre Dame.
D.J. Uiagalelei is off to a great start
It was a nail-biter for much longer than Clemson fans anticipated, but D.J. Uiagalelei ultimately won his debut as a starting quarterback last week. Uiagalelei went 30 of 41 for 342 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers rallied past Boston College, 34-28, to maintain their No. 1 ranking.
Uiagalelei also rushed for a touchdown in place of junior Trevor Lawrence, who has thrown 83 touchdown passes and just 14 interceptions in 36 career games. Lawrence had to watch from his apartment as Clemson rallied from 18 points down in the first half.
Uiagalelei was one of the country’s most coveted QB prospects last year at John Bosco High in Bellflower, California. His career stat line at Clemson before the Boston College game was 12 completions in 19 attempts for 102 yards.
Next weekend, he’s the starting quarterback again for Clemson, this time against No. 4 Notre Dame in South Bend in the biggest game of the college football season while Lawrence continues his quarantine and cardiac testing protocol.
Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei has a neat strategy for staying humble
Legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden had a number of famous sayings. One of them was: “Talent is God given, be humble; fame is man-given, be thankful; conceit is self-given, be careful.”
In Wooden’s days, newspaper columnists and the announcers on the occasional televised game were the biggest threats when it came to pumping up an athlete’s ego. Nowadays, it’s all about social media. Facebook and Twitter share clips of great plays moments after they happen.
The old and new forms of media sometimes converge, as was the case two days after the Clemson win over Boston College when CBS Sports college football analyst Dennis Dodd beat everyone to the hype punch.
“D.J. Uiagalelei is going to be better than Trevor Lawrence,” Dodd said in a clip shared on Twitter.
That’s got to be heady stuff for Uiagalelei. Fortunately, the freshman with 32,000 (and growing) Twitter followers blocks out gratuitous adulation. And that begins with blocking his own father on Twitter, something he started doing as a high school sophomore.
It seems dad posts too many glowing reviews of his son’s exploits on the football field.
“Sometimes, he can be over the top,” Uiagalelei said, according to TigerNet.com. “He likes the media. He likes the spotlight. I’m more like my mom. I like to be low-key.”
The start of something big at Clemson
D.J. Uiagalelei was looking at video breakdowns two days before the Boston College game when head coach Dabo Swinney walked in. Ordinarily, Trevor Lawrence would have been there, too. However, the Heisman Trophy favorite was in quarantine awaiting confirmation that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was in the film room, chillin’,” Uiagalelei told CBS Sports. “Coach Swinney walked in. His face was kind of like I was in trouble. I was like, ‘Dang, what did I do? Did I like a picture on Twitter I wasn’t supposed to like? Did I tweet something wrong? … Then he told me Trevor wasn’t playing.”
Less than 48 hours later, Uiagalelei was beating Boston College.
“Trevor Lawrence is going to be an incredible NFL player,” BC coach Jeff Hafley said. “But Trevor’s probably not going to be here next year.”