Throughout the Dabo Swinney era, the quarterback run has become a key component of the Clemson offense.
Tajh Boyd, Deshaun Watson, Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence were all valuable assets in the Tigers rushing attack over the past decade. Each brought their own unique skill to the offense when it comes to running the ball, and each had a tremendous amount of success using their legs to keep opposing defenses off balance.
With D.J. Uiagalelei now set to assume control of the Clemson offense heading into the 2021 season, passing game coordinator and quarterback's coach Brandon Streeter fully expects the quarterback also known as "Big Cinco" to do what the others before him did and make his own mark on the offense when it comes to using his legs.
"I want to be able to see him be explosive," Streeter said. "And everybody's a different type of runner. He's a really good athlete, a smooth athlete, that can really hurt you. Not just with his arm but also with his feet. So I really challenged him to keep his weight down and be able to be more explosive."
Although, there is one noticeable difference when it comes to comparing Uiagalelei to those quarterbacks that came before him. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 250-pounds, Uiagalelei is a far more physically imposing figure and while Streeter wanted his quarterback working on getting stronger over the summer, he was also quick to point out that there's a fine line the quarterback will have to walk when it comes to managing his weight.
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"There's plenty of things physically that he can work on," Streeter said. "Obviously getting stronger, getting faster, making sure his weight isn't too much. He's a big kid, you know, he doesn't have a whole lot of body fat, it's just a big fear. He has to really do a good job with his nutrition and just making sure that his weight doesn't get too high."
Going from backup to starting quarterback at a school like Clemson comes with a number of different challenges, not only physically, but also mentally. Streeter said another area that is crucial for Uiagalelei's development involves how well he handles evolving into one of the leaders of not only the quarterback room but the offense as a whole.
"D.J. is going into his second year," Streeter said. "I always want to challenge him and all the other quarterbacks in improving in their leadership. It's a new role for D.J. now, he's not the backup, he's the guy. So it's very important that he takes a step forward in the leadership department."
Uiagalelei is one of the most well-liked players in the locker room and Streeter said his quarterback did a fantastic job of holding himself accountable as the backup to Lawrence during his freshman season. Now, as the team heads into fall camp, he's ready to see Uiagalelei take that next step in his development as a leader by holding the rest of his teammates accountable.
"He's such a nice guy, everybody loves this kid," Streeter said. "He just needs to be demanding, that's another thing. Needs to hold himself accountable first, which he's done a good job of. Then he needs to hold this team accountable and that's hard to do when you're such a nice guy. You know, it's hard to. You don't want to step on toes. So I've challenged him in that part of his leadership with holding guys accountable, and really stepping up in that department."