Clemson has never had an issue with the pronunciation of quarterback Trevor Lawrence's name, but that was another cruel consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After Lawrence was unavailable for last week's game against Boston College and Saturday's game at Notre Dame, anchors, sportscasters and analysts around the nation began their pronunciation work on the new starting quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei.
Uiagalelei, admitted that he has heard it all when it comes to the pronunciation of his last name—which is pronounced, ooh-ee-AHN-guh-luh-lay.
"I've heard a lot (of people butchering the last name), probably, I mean," Uiagalelei said during a Zoom press conference Monday. "But for me. I think like Wiggly Lee. I've heard Wiggly Lee one time, I forgot who said something like that. Like Wiggly Lee. I never heard that type of pronunciation I like her different pronunciation my whole life. I think that was one that was pretty funny."
One media member asked Uiagalelei if he minded being simply known as the "Throwin' Samoan" in hopes of easing the toll on those who are forced to write or say his last name, " You guys can call me whenever you want. It doesn't matter to me," he said.
However, the one nickname that he prefers is the one that he fell in love with while in high school. In fact, he loves it so much that he has a massive pendant of the nickname that he wears on game days on a gold chain.
"Big Cinco, I think it started off in maybe high school," Uiagalelei said. "I think some of the players called me Cinco, like five, and so on. Some called me just Big Cinco. I just heard him like, 'This pretty cool.' I started like putting a hashtag on it on my Instagram, like Big Cinco, and then eventually I got I made. Got it made into a chain, I got a pendant and I like wearing chains."
Uiagalelei made the first start of his college career for the Tigers on Saturday and the freshman signal-caller did not disappoint, throwing for more than 340 yards and completing 73 percent of his passes in helping lead Clemson back from an 18-point deficit in a 34-28 win.
Uiagalelei earned his first career ACC weekly honor after making his first career start and completing 30-of-41 passes for 342 yards with two passing touchdowns and no interceptions while leading Clemson to the largest comeback in Memorial Stadium history (18 points). With the performance, he joined Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence as the only true freshmen in Clemson history to win their starting debuts, and his 342 passing yards were the third-most by a Clemson freshman (true or redshirt) in his starting debut. He becomes the first Clemson player to win ACC Rookie of the Week since his teammate, Trevor Lawrence, also earned the honor as a true freshman against Boston College in 2018.