Jord is here with his next analysis of an early favourite for the Heisman Trophy: D.J. Uiagalelei.
D. J. Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson Tigers
Sophomore, 6 ‘ 4”, 249 lbs
With the Trevor Lawrence era at an end, a new guy steps up with big boots to fill. D.J. Uiagalelei debuted as a Freshman in two games last season due to Covid. In 2021, he is looking at his first full season as the Tigers QB1. He looked solid in the two full games he appeared in last season. The first was a 6 point win over Boston College, and the other a 7 point overtime loss to Notre Dame. In those games, Uiagalelei threw for 781 yards and 4 TDs. D.J. should be the Clemson QB for at least two years, so this year isn’t his only chance at getting his hands on the Heisman Trophy. This year doesn’t seem to have a clear favourite, which will make him a likely candidate for the Heisman Trophy. But there’s one problem: the Clemson curse. Will it continue in 2021, or will we finally see a Heisman Trophy winner from Death Valley?
Time to step up again
In the two games Uiagalelei competed in last season, he showed an ability to step up and handle the pressure. In his first ever regular season game against Boston College, the Tigers found themselves 28-13 down at HT. D.J. threw 1 TD and ran in for one himself as he guided the Tigers to a 34-28 win in the second half. He has an array of talents that give him the keys to be able to succeed at Clemson. If he can get anywhere near the abilities of QB alumni Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence, he will have a fine college career.
The same but more
Can Uiagalelei replicate his Freshman promise over the course of a full season? Uigalelei has the tools and the cast to help him. The big concern is of course receiver Justyn Ross, the talented wide out who missed all of 2020 through injury. Clemson has ample talent surrounding Uiagalelei. The 2020 defence that looked so strong last season has stayed together, this could keep DJ on the field more. If he’s playing well, that can only mean good things for D.J.. Clemson has a tricky start in the opening game of the 2021 season when they play the Georgia Bulldogs. If D.J. Uiagalelei wants to be in contention for the Heisman Trophy in 2021, he will have to be on top of his game from Week 1.
In the group behind Rattler vying for the Heisman, I think Uiagalelei is near the top of the list. Although he only appeared in two full games last season, he showed composure and the skills that are needed to win games. He will need to show that he can translate that ability into a full season of games. If he can then Clemson could break the hoodoo of never having a Heisman winner. As a Sophomore, his task appears even greater. There have been only four winners in the history of the Heisman Trophy who were in their second year of school. It will take a Herculean effort in his first year as a starter to make the dream real.
It will take a performance just shy of miraculous to make it happen. After all, Trevor Lawrence never got his hands on the famous Heisman Trophy. Neither did Deshaun Watson. But records are there to be broken, and somebody has to be the first. Can it be D.J. Uiagalelei?