DJ Uiagalelei Has to ‘Re-Earn’ Spot Atop Clemson Depth Chart

Cade Klbnik’s arrival at Clemson has been surrounded by a ton of hype.

The Elite-11 and All American Bowl MVP was a 5-star quarterback coming out of high school, and with starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei having his share of struggles a season ago, many inside the fan base were quick to anoint Klubnik the Tigers’ starting quarterback in 2022.

Reports out of spring practice have been glowing. However, offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter noted before the team broke for spring break that while Klubnik is everything the coaches thought he would be, the freshman is quite competing for the starting job quite yet.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a battle yet, but of course, he’s pushing,” Streeter said. “I think all four of the quarterbacks that are taking reps are pushing each other.”

At the same time, that doesn’t mean that Uiagalelei will be automatically penciled in as the teams starter either, according to Streeter.

“There is no automatic starter,” Streeter said. “That’s not how it works. It’s not what our program is about. Our program’s about earning it. And what’s happened in the past, you got to re-earn. And so that’s a big philosophy of our program.”

After shining during his freshman season, which included making two starts in place of an unavailable Trevor Lawrence. Although, last season, Uiagalelei just could not avoid the sophomore slump.

While Clemson’s issues on the offensive side of the ball went much deeper than quarterback play, Uiagalelei absolutely had his share of issues. Clemson’s new offensive coordinator maintained that the quarterback has owned that, and is doing everything he can to improve in 2022.

That would include having already shared more than 20 pounds, and Uiagalelei has gone on record stating he plans to lose a little more.

“DJ has done an incredible job between the bowl game and spring ball,” Streeter said. “Getting his body right, getting his mind right, and going to work and I’m really, really proud of him for doing that. And I wouldn’t expect anything different. No excuse guy at all, and he just goes to work.”

Having the 5-star freshman pushing him also helps. Klubnik gives the Tigers something they did not have last season, another viable option in the quarterback room.

“And of course, with Cade getting here, another high profile guy, that’s gonna push you,” Streeter said. “And again, he’s done a great job of that. He’s handled that situation very, very well.”

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