Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei moves to Oregon State as a five-star prospect tries to restart his career

DJ Uiagalelei turns Clemson’s orange and purple into Oregon State’s orange and black. Uiagalelei signed on Saturday to join the Beavers from the transfer portal for the 2023 season after a career that didn’t go as expected with the Tigers.

Uiagalelei, a five-star contender in the class of 2020, was benched for Cade Klubnik during Clemson’s ACC Championship Game win over North Carolina. Two days later he entered the transfer portal. This after Uiagalelei was drawn during a number of games throughout the season as Clemson’s offense constantly struggled to gain traction.

There was speculation that Uiagalelei would move to UCLA, Washington or Oregon near the end of the season, but Washington and Oregon saw Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix return for 2023, and Kent State’s Collin Schlee joined UCLA. There was even some speculation – including a prediction by 247Sports Crystal Ball earlier in the week – that Uiagalelei would end up in Hawaii.

Instead, it’s another Pac-12 program designed to help the former five-star prospect fulfill his potential. Uiagalelei’s decision will come just days after his brother, the five-star 2023 EDGE Matayo Uiagalelei. committed to rival Oregon on National Signing Day.

Best action for all parties

Uiagalelei, No. 10 in the 2020 class, would become the next QB superstar for Clemson, following in the footsteps of Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. He didn’t live up to the hype. In two seasons with the Tigers as a starter, DJU struggled to find consistency as a passer. He completed just 59.8% of his passes for 6.6 yards per attempt and finished the 2021 season with more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (nine). While he rebounded in 2022 with 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, late-season speculation of a possible replacement by Klubnik in 2023 seemed to weigh on him. In his last two games, he completed only 10 out of 34 tries.

Now, Uiagalelei gets a fresh start in the Pac-12 with the Beavers. He will play in the same state as another transfer quarterback who needed a fresh start in the West and found one in Auburn’s Bo Nix. Meanwhile, Clemson can move to Klubnik. Many Clemson fans will argue that Dabo Swinney waited too long to make the move and it’s possible that had Uiagalelei returned in 2023 he would still be the starter and the Tigers would have risked losing Klubnik to the transfer portal.

DJU is an upgrade for Oregon State

While Uiagalelei will likely never live up to the hype surrounding him post high school, it’s not as if he wasn’t a talented player. Now he will play under Jonathan Smith on an offense that is frankly better equipped to exploit his talents. While Uiagalelei didn’t do himself any favors with Clemson, the Tigers’ scheme also deserved a significant chunk of blame.

At Oregon State, Uiagalelei joins a team that has won 10-3 this season despite losing the start of QB Chance Nolan after five games into the season through injury. Nolan was replaced by Ben Gulbranson, who put in an admirable performance but couldn’t make a difference that could be Uiagalelei.

Pac-12 is deep in the QB league

Well, many people—myself included—said the same thing about the ACC in 2022, and we’ve seen how that worked for Uiagalelei, Clemson, and the conference as a whole. Still, the Pac-12 will have reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams back next season. Nix is ​​back in Oregon and Penix is ​​in Washington. Schlee isn’t a household name, but he’s appeared big at Kent State, and the Bruins also have a five-star freshman coming to Brentwood in Dante Moore.

Add in Uiagalelei — with Washington State’s Cam Ward, Arizona’s Jayden de Laura, Arizona State’s Drew Pyne and Colorado’s Sheduer Sanders — and the Pac-12 appears to have considerable QB depth.

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