Anyone who follows college football knows about DJ Uiagalelei and for good reason. He’s an elite athlete and checks every possible box in what you want in a quarterback. Expectations were sky-high for Uiagalelei at Clemson. Winning 10 games as a sophomore was considered a huge disappointment and criticism mounted as he battled injuries and the offense struggled in general. ESPN’s David Hale did a fantastic story about DJ Uiagalelei after Clemson’s 4-0 start this past season. It’s a great read, but highlights just why Dabo Swinney and the Clemson coaching staff are rooting so hard for DJ Uiagalelei and didn’t want him to transfer. Here’s my favorite excerpt:
“Yet each week, Uiagalelei returned to the field, blamed no one but himself for Clemson’s struggles and muddled through another game in which every yard felt hard-earned and, in 10 of the Tigers’ 13 games, still added up to enough (just barely) to win. Inside Clemson’s football facility, it earned Uiagalelei unprecedented respect.”
DJ Uiagalelei has a huge arm and is incredibly difficult to bring down as a runner. The Beavers are almost always a run-orientated offense. They’ll look to establish the run again next season with their stable of running backs and stout offensive line. In fact, Oregon State hasn’t relied on their quarterback to generate the bulk of the offense since the Sean Mannion days. It’s been almost a decade since they’ve had a 3,000 yard passer. All of these factors are going to help DJ; he’s not going to be asked to carry the offense or be the 2nd coming of Trevor Lawrence in Corvallis. Instead Jonathan Smith and company are going to put him in positions to succeed and will compliment his strengths. And let me tell you Beaver Nation, DJ Uiagalelei has a lot of strengths and he could have one of the best quarterbacking seasons in OSU history this upcoming season.
Let’s take a look at his three seasons with Clemson. Stats courtesy of sports-reference.com:
Those are really good numbers. The way DJ was criticized by fans and the media you would never have guessed he ended his Clemson career throwing for 5681 yards, 36 TDs and to just 17 INTs. He also added 913 yards and 15 TDs with his legs. The Beavers threw the ball as little as possible this past season and their QBs still tossed 13 interceptions on the season.
If you haven’t already do yourself a favor and watch DJ Uiagalelei’s 2022 highlights below:
Jonathan Smith is a great coach. Damien Martinez is an elite running back and Oregon State’s offensive line is excellent. The Beavers 2023 non-conference schedule is relatively easy and will allow DJ Uiagalelei to ease into his new environment and develop a connection with his offensive weapons.
I’m not worried about Oregon State’s offense next season. It will be a good unit and DJ could even help the offense be great. The biggest question I have is will DJ Uiagalelei throw for over 3,000 yards? I’m not sure how many games Oregon State will win next season, but I do expect DJ Uiagalelei to have a great season and I think he tops 3,000 yards. That would put him in elite Oregon State company (only 5 QBs have done it in school history).