Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei could very well do what Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence didn't before him: win a Heisman Trophy.
In fact, oddsmakers like his chances this year. The sophomore heads into his first season as the starting QB of a Tiger team destined for top-5 preseason ranking as the second player listed in odds to take home the bronze award.
However, Pro Football Focus sees Uiagalelei as more of a longshot based on their rankings. A list that came out Monday ranked the California native as the eighth-best returning QB in college football for 2021.
Uiagalelei is behind (in order) Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler, UNC's Sam Howell, Miami's D'Eriq King, UCF's Dillon Gabriel, Indiana's Michael Penix, Ole Miss' Matt Corral and Coastal Carolina's Grayson Marshall.
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PFF's ranking of the position is based on a "bevy of factors," including their own metrics and grades. Here's what PFF wrote about Uiagalelei:
Uiagalelei was one of Dabo Swinney’s prized recruits of the 2020 class — a five-star who ranked 10th nationally, according to 247Sports.
When Trevor Lawrence was out with COVID-19, Uiagalelei impressed in spot starts as a true freshman. He earned an 83.6 passing grade with five big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy plays in those two games against Boston College and Notre Dame. And Uiagalelei showed that he has an absolute rocket-launcher for an arm.
We saw a few inaccurate throws that stemmed from mechanical issues, but that is nothing major to worry about. Uiagalelei displayed all the requisite tools to be an elite college quarterback and didn’t look like a true freshman out there being protected by easy throws.
The only QB ahead of Uiagalelei (+600) in Heisman odds is Rattler, a +550 favorite. One notable absence from this list is the QB who Clemson and Uiagalelei face in the season opener on Sept. 4: Georgia's J.T. Daniels, who's listed third in Heisman odds behind Bryce Young, another QB left off of PFF's ranking.
To be fair, there hasn't been a ton of production from Uiagalelei, so the numbers could be skewed for returning players with more to analyze.
Uiagalelei made two starts for Lawrence in 2020, and the then-freshman threw for 916 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions on the season. He completed 66.7 percent of his passes and scored four more TDs on the ground.