Clemson football needs D.J. Uiagalelei to make the most of this offseason. Head coach Dabo Swinney laid out what he expects from his quarterback.
No one in college football has bigger shoes to fill than D.J. Uiagalelei in 2021.
The Clemson quarterback is following in the shadow of Trevor Lawrence, who kept the Tigers steady at quarterback for three years.
If Clemson wants to remain a College Football Playoff contender this year, they need Uiagalelei to handle the pressure without slipping up.
Dabo Swinney wants D.J. Uiagalelei to take control
After Clemson’s Spring Game on Saturday, head coach Dabo Swinney detailed where his quarterback has to progress over the summer.
“Really taking ownership of this offense,” Swinney told reporters via Anna Hickey of Clemson247. “Go back through the installation, go back through the spring, go back over every mistake and situation. He really had a good spring. But we are talking about trying to be elite.”
Swinney’s final word there says it all. It’s not enough for Uiagalelei to be good. He needs to be top shelf to live up to expectations.
There are other mental elements Swinney wants to see from Uiagalalei, including “asserting himself as a leader.”
Beyond the mental, there’s the physical.
Swinney expects Uiagalelei to get “his body in the best possible position he can be in.”
“His body is nowhere near mature as it’s going to be as he continues to grind in the weight room and nutrition,” Swinney said, pointing to Uiagalelei’s youth coming out of his true freshman season.
Uiagalelei was called into action twice last season, performing well in a win over Boston College and a loss to Notre Dame. He had four touchdowns and no interceptions between the two games. But it was clear he has plenty of room to grow. He won’t be able to match Lawrence overnight.
The head coach is confident he’s not asking too much of his quarterback.
“I can tell you this about D.J.: whatever we tell him, it’s going to pale in comparison to what his expectations are for himself,” Swinney said.
Uiagalelei has a few months before he can prove how seriously he’s taken his preparation.