Is Clemson Tigers QB’s DJ Uiagalelei flying under the radar?

It may be the youth.

Maybe it’s the lack of production.

It is perhaps the doubt of the pieces that surround it.

Maybe it’s the fact that there are so many more tried and true quarterbacks returning to college football this season.

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Maybe next year is his year.

Maybe people are tired of choosing Clemson and want a reason not to do so in 2021.

Maybe it’s because he’s not Trevor Lawrence.

Either way, there seems to be a lack of hype around Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagaelei this summer. The sophomore sensation doesn’t make the cover of the prestigious Phil Steele College Football Preview magazine.

This honor goes to his teammate and defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, an upcoming superstar in his own right.

Earlier this year, Pro Football Focus ranked seven QBs ahead of Uiagalelei on their return callers list. Some of them, like Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler, made sense. Others don’t.

And then there are analysts like SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum, who has the Tigers as the team most likely to come out of college football playoffs. ESPN’s Heather Dinich agreed, citing Clemson’s problems on the offensive line, backup QB and receiver.

The point is, Dabo Swinney’s team had the same “issues” last year, but most pundits had Clemson in the top 3, even No. 1 in many cases. But this is not to denigrate the prognosticators. Rather, it is asking what has changed?

It looks like Lawrence (and running back Travis Etienne) put people at ease last summer, but did they watch Uiagalelei against Notre Dame when he threw for 439 yards on Notre Dame Road?

Of course, Clemson lost that match, but it wasn’t because Lawrence was out with COVID-19.

The point is, Alabama and Ohio State are jumping into new QBs Bryce Young and CJ Stroud, respectively. Are national experts jumping from these ships?

And at a time when college football society likes to make choices and put the spotlight on teams that recruit at the highest level, it’s important to remember that Uiagalelei was one of the best prospects in the entire 2020 class.

There are simply no questions about arm strength or the ability to physically hold up at this level. The Californian hope is 6 feet 4 inches and 250 pounds.

He’s been in the spotlight since he was 15 or 16. At the moment, it’s not that bright for him. Yes, he’s still young and hasn’t gone through all the battles yet, but the pedigree and small sample size suggests that the same people who underestimate Uiagalelei and his impact are now the same who will forget everything. ‘They overlooked If he puts in 300+ yards and several touchdowns and leads his team to a win over Georgia in Game 1 of the season on September 4.

Do not forget this last nugget: the group which does not rule out Uiagalelei at all is that of the punters. FanDuel Sportsbook has the Tigers listed as the second most likely team to win the domestic championship in 2021.

It’s hard to have that possibility without also having one of the best QBs in the country.

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About John Villalpando

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