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Will DJ Uiagalelei transfer out of Clemson?

Will DJ Uiagalelei transfer out of Clemson?
Clemson Tigers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) prepares before a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Mike Roberts

CLEMSON, S.C. (BVM) – Following the end of Trevor Lawrence’s historic run at Clemson, the Tigers believed they had a freshman quarterback waiting in the wings who could continue their annual national championship aspirations. DJ Uiagalelei was tasked with living up to the mantle left behind from the former No. 1 overall pick, but the results throughout his tenure have never quite reached the same heights. Closing in on the end of his second year starting, the junior quarterback could find himself searching for a new landscape as he determines his future.

After enjoying a 10-1 record heading into the final game of the regular season, Uiagalelei and Clemson would struggle against South Carolina as the Tigers quarterback completed just 8-of-29 passes for 99 yards in the team’s loss. The disappointing finish heading into the ACC Championship game was another reminder that Clemson was unable to reach some of the program’s past accomplishments. In three seasons with the team, Uiagalelei has racked up 5,671 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and a 21-6 starting record. 

“I think he’s a good player,” South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler said before South Carolina’s matchup against Clemson. “He went through kinda what I went through at OU… he’s been through a lot, a lot of unfair treatment. He’s a great player and he does a lot of great stuff for them.”

Like the Gamecocks quarterback, who transferred to the program following the 2021 campaign, the end of the season will certainly bring up an interesting decision for both Uiagalelei and the Clemson coaching staff. After landing topranked Class of 2022 quarterback Cade Klubnik, the Tigers might be ready for a new direction at the position. Klubnik played sparingly in his true freshman season completing 11-of-22 passes. After Uiagalelei struggled earlier in the year against Syracuse, Klubnik came in for relief and helped lead the Tigers over their ranked ACC opponent.

With an upcoming game still on the slate, Uiagalelei has the chance to get back on track against North Carolina and end his 2022 season off with both a conference and bowl win.

DJ Uiagalelei Clemson
Clemson Tigers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) passes against the Boston College Eagles during the first quarter at Alumni Stadium. (Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Potential transfer landing spots for Uiagalelei

Uiagalelei could still enter the 2023 season with Clemson and be the projected starter, albeit after a likely quarterback battle with Klubnik. If Uiagalelei does decide to enter the transfer portal, like a handful of top names already have, including the likes of Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara and Texas quarterback Hudson Card, then there will certainly be interest from some of the top programs in the country.

Notre Dame

Marcus Freeman’s first season leading the Fighting Irish had its fair share of positive and negative moments. With an offense looking for answers since the very first game of the year, Notre Dame would make perfect sense for a quarterback with Uiagalelei’s resume. Questions still surround the future of the position following another inconsistent season from Tyler Buchner. Fill-in quarterback Drew Pyne had another solid campaign after taking over late in the team’s loss against Marshall, but the program may still be looking for a splash move in the upcoming months.

Auburn

The recent hiring of head coach Hugh Freeze signaled a change in culture for the Tigers as they aim for a return to relevance. In his opening press conference, Freeze mentioned his belief in a short turnaround for the program’s roster as he plans to be active in landing players out of the transfer portal. If Uiagalelei were to decide to leave Clemson, adding the former No. 2 quarterback in the Class of 2020 would provide the major change Auburn could be looking for after an up-and-down season from current starter Robby Ashford.

Ohio State

Landing on with the Buckeyes feels like more of a long shot but head coach Ryan Day could add another quarterback to the mix next season that could also help with recruiting. Uiagalelei’s brother, Matayo, is one of the topranked edge rushers in the Class of 2023 and has been an Ohio State target for some time. With a likely opening at the position with current quarterback CJ Stroud projected to be a top pick in the NFL draft, the Buckeyes might be a team in play for somebody who can compete for the starting spot next year alongside Kyle McCord.