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Is Clemson's D.J. Uiagalelei Flying Under the Radar?

There seems to be a lack of hype surrounding sophomore sensation D.J. Uiagalelei heading into the season, but that could change after Clemson's season opener against Georgia.

Maybe it's the youth. 

Maybe it's the lack of production. 

Maybe it's the doubt of the pieces around him. 

Maybe it's the fact that there are so many other more proven quarterbacks returning to college football this season. 

Maybe next year is his year.

Maybe folks are tired of picking Clemson and want a reason not to in 2021.

Maybe it's because he's not Trevor Lawrence. 

Whatever it is, there seems to be a lack of hype surrounding Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagaelei this summer. The sophomore sensation isn't gracing the cover of the prestigious Phil Steele College Football Preview magazine. 

That honor goes to teammate and defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, a superstar in the making in his own right. 

Pro Football Focus earlier this year ranked seven QBs ahead of Uiagalelei on their returning signal-caller list. Some of those, like Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler, made sense. Others did not. 


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And then there are analysts like SEC Network's Paul Finebaum, who has the Tigers as the likeliest team to slip out of the College Football Playoff. ESPN's Heather Dinich agreed, citing Clemson's issues at offensive line, backup QB and receiver. 

The thing is, Dabo Swinney's team had those same "issues" last year, yet most pundits had Clemson as a top-3 team, even No. 1 in many instances. But this is not to bash prognosticators. It's more of wondering what's changed?

It seems that Lawrence (and running back Travis Etienne) put people at ease last summer, but did they watch Uiagalelei against Notre Dame when he threw for 439 yards on the road at Notre Dame?

Sure, Clemson lost that game, but it wasn't because Lawrence was out with COVID-19. 

The point is, Alabama and Ohio State are breaking in new QBs Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, respectively. Are national pundits jumping off those ships? 

And in an era where college football society likes to make picks and hype up teams that recruit at the highest level, it's important to remember that Uiagalelei was one of the top prospects in the entire 2020 class. 

There simply aren't questions about arm strength or being able to hold up physically at this level. The California prospect is 6-foot-4, 250 pounds. 

He's dealt with the spotlight since he was 15 or 16 years old. Right now, it isn't all that bright on him. Yes, he's still young and hasn't been through all the battles yet, but the pedigree and small sample size suggest the same folks who are underplaying Uiagalelei and his impact now are the same ones who will forget everything they overlooked IF he puts up 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns and leads his team to a win over Georgia in the season opener Sept. 4. 

Don't forget this one last nugget: The group who isn't discounting Uiagalelei one bit is oddsmakers. FanDuel Sportsbook has the Tigers listed as the second-likeliest team to win the national championship in 2021. 

It's hard to have that possibility without having one of the country's best QBs as well

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