Jonathan Smith and his staff made a statement on Saturday afternoon when Clemson quarterback transfer DJ Uiagalelei officially announced his intentions to transfer to Oregon State.
He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining to use in Corvallis.
The former five-star quarterback entered the transfer portal following the ACC Championship game earlier this month. The commitment comes days after BeaversEdge reported on The Dam Board that the Beavers were heavily targeting the quarterback and were expected to make a strong push for him.
On Friday, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Uiagalelei was expected to transfer to Corvallis, a report that BeaversEdge was able to confirm a short while later.
Landing the Southern California native is a major recruiting win for the Beavers. The former St. John Bosco (CA) standout is the best player according to the Rivals Recruiting Rankings to ever commit to the program. It also will provide the Beavers with a potential game changer at the signal caller position.
This past season, despite slightly above average performances at the quarterback position for most of the season, Jonathan Smith’s program was still able to collect a 10-3 season. Now, while returning a large majority of their talent from the 2021 season, the Beavers will have the next level quarterback that they have been searching for.
This season for Clemson, Uiagalelei completed 229-of-370 passing attempts (61.9%) for 2,5,21-yards, 22 touchdowns, and one interception. It was a much improved year from his first year as a starter in 2021 that saw him complete just 55.6% of his passes for 2,246 yards and nine touchdowns while throwing 10 interceptions.
For comparison, the Beavers three quarterbacks in Chance Nolan, Ben Gulbranson, and Tristan Gebbia combined for completing 197-of-316 attempts (62.3%) for 2,473 yards and 16 touchdowns. Nolan and Gulbranson, however, did throw a combined 13 interceptions on the season.
Despite the improved performance, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound quarterback was replaced by Clemson’s 2022 signee Cade Klubnik during the ACC Championship game. After a tough start for Uiagalelei in the game. Klubnik would go onto complete 20-of-24 passing attempts in the game for 279 yards. A few days following the Tigers’ 39-10 win over North Carolina, Uiagalelei announced his intentions to enter the transfer portal.
While his career at Clemson certainly did not go to plan, Uiagalelei still brings a ton of talent and an extremely high ceiling to Corvallis. Throughout his time with the Tigers, he showed flashes of great accuracy as well as tremendous arm strength. He also showed the ability to be a dual threat quarterback despite his impressive size.
Totaling 913 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 275 carries over three seasons. This season, he had his best season on the ground, picking up 545 yards and seven touchdowns on 142 carries.
The Beavers’ future is bright at quarterback…
The commitment also continues to mark the Beavers ability to attract and land elite talent. Throughout the Jonathan Smith tenure, there’s been several close misses including JT Daniels last spring. Uiagalelei, however, puts any remaining doubts about the Beavers’ abilities to recruit to bed.
With Uiagalelei in the fold, it also gives the Beavers one of the best quarterback recruiting hauls this offseason. As part of their 2023 recruiting cycle, the Beavers landed four-star quarterback Aidan Chiles out of Downey (CA). Chiles was offered by the program early last year and quickly became a priority for the Beavers coaching staff. He eventually committed to the program over Kansas State, Washington, and others. After committing to the Beavers, Chiles rose up recruiting rankings and became one of the highest rated dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
In the latest Rivals Recruiting Rankings, Chiles was ranked as the country’s seventh best dual-threat quarterback and the 31st best player in the state of California.
With the 6-foot-4, 195-pound Chiles likely greatly benefiting from a redshirt year, the Beavers could be set at quarterback for the foreseeable future. Uiagalelei has two years of eligibility remaining but a strong 2023 could be enough to propel him to the NFL, or if he does use both years, it would give Chiles two years of development time before the reigns of the offense are potentially handed over to the four-star talent.
All in all, the Beavers could theoretically be set at quarterback for the three to five years if all goes to plan.