Clemson QB D.J. Uiagalelei Is Lighting It Up In Spring Practice After Significant Weight Loss In 2022

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After reaching the College Football Playoff for six straight years, the Tigers missed out in 2021 and finished the year with a Cheez-It Bowl win over Iowa State. Despite winning 10 games, it was a disappointing result for Dabo Swinney’s team.

At the forefront of the struggles, as is the case with any program, was the quarterback. Five-star recruit D.J. Uiagalelei simply did not live up to expectations last season.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound sophomore finished with 10 interceptions and only nine touchdowns. As a result, although he is considered to be the front-runner as the incumbent, his starting job in 2022 is not set in stone.

Uiagalelei will compete with five-star freshman Cade Klubnik and grad transfer Hunter Johnson. It is currently considered his job to lose, and with the success he has seen during the early part of spring practice, he is trending positively.

Clemson began its spring ball over the weekend and Uiagalelei showed up looking noticeably lighter. After reaching the 260-pound mark at the end of last season, he has put in the work to eat better and says that he has lost a very significant amount of weight. His transformation is pretty remarkable for just a few months and he says that he has plans to lose additional weight.

Whether because of the weight loss or not, he is playing lights-out so far.

After the Tigers’ fifth practice of 2022 on Wednesday, Swinney spoke with the media about his quarterback situation. He said that Klubnik has been better than advertised and is living up to every expectation.

However, he also said that Uiagalelei has been playing extremely well. In fact, Swinney went so far as to say that he had “probably as good a practice as he’s ever had at Clemson.”

During the Wednesday session, Uiagalelei completed 16-of-18 passes, which his head coach credited to a combination of improved accuracy and timing from his quarterback. He also attributed some of the early success to consistent help from his line and receivers.

In addition, Swinney said that he has seen a lot more confidence from his rising junior signal-caller and thinks that he has a better feel for the game.

“Made great decisions,” he said. “Took care of the ball. No turnovers. Created a couple of big plays and just has a great command of what he’s doing.”

As for the weight loss, Swinney said that there “is no question” that Uiagalelei is showing more mobility. While he isn’t the fastest guy on the field, he is down a lot of weight and moving a lot better.

“He’s never going to be a 4.5 guy (in the 40-yard dash), but we don’t need him to be,” Swinney said. “Just need him to be the best version of himself, and that’s just part of the maturation process as these kids come to college learning what their ideal composition needs to be. And then buying into that and staying committed to that.”

Although the Clemson head coach would not give an answer about who is set to start under center come Week 1, he certainly sounds confident in Uiagalelei.

Here is what he had to say:

“He definitely looks great. The biggest thing is he’s just confident. I think his experience last year shows.”

Should this positive play at quarterback continue, Clemson’s return to the CFP could be well within reach. Uiagalelei is legit and it sounds like he is balling out at a lighter weight.