DJ Uiagalelei to enter transfer portal: Clemson’s two-year starter, former No. 1 QB recruit seeks fresh start

Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei is expected to enter the transfer portal after two years as the Tigers’ starter, according to 247 Sports’ Chris Hummer. The junior signal caller will have up to three years of eligibility remaining at his next stop. It is not yet known when Uiagalelei plans to enter the portal.

The No. 1 pro-style QB recruit in the Class of 2022 and a consensus 5-star prospect, Uiagalelei was expected to become the next great Clemson QB continuing the legacy of Trevor Lawrence, Deshaun Watson and Tajh Boyd. The latest in a line of great QB recruits from St. John Bosco in California flashed some of that upside when thrust into action as a true freshman in 2020 after Lawrence got COVID-19, throwing for 439 yards and two touchdowns against then-No. 4 Notre Dame.

However, Uiagalelei struggled over the past two seasons as the starter, which culminated in his benching early in the ACC Championship Game against North Carolina. True freshman Cade Klubnik inserted into the game, and he completed 20 of 24 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown in the 39-10 win over the Tar Heels. The victory marked Clemson’s return to the top of the ACC mountain after a one-year absence.

“Moving forward, Cade will be the starter going in, and DJ will be the backup,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said after the game. “We’ll keep moving forward, and I’m sure there will be plenty of conversations — he graduates in a week or so, so he’s got a bright future. He’s got a bright future. Obviously, it didn’t end tonight the way he would like, but he’s got a bright, bright future as a football player.”

Uiagalelei ranked as the lowest-rated passer in the ACC during his first season starting full time for Clemson, the first three-loss campaign and finishing outside of the AP top five since 2014. After the season, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott left to take the Virginia job and was replaced by quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter.

DJU’s numbers improved as a sophomore, including an impressive stretch with 580 yards passing, six touchdowns and zero interceptions in wins over Wake Forest and NC State in back-to-back weeks. However, he was benched after throwing two interceptions in a loss to Syracuse when Klubnik led a game-winning drive.

Uiagalalei completed 59.8% of his passes for 5,681 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 35 appearances for Clemson. The Tigers failed to make the College Football Playoff in either of his years as a starter, snapping a streak of six consecutive appearances.

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