With Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence out for at least one game after testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, freshman D.J. Uiagalelei is expected to take spotlight when the No. 1 Tigers host Boston College on Saturday. It won't be the first playing time of his career -- he's appeared in five games already -- but it would be his first start.
The stakes will be significant as well. It's uncertain whether Lawrence will be cleared to play next week when Clemson plays at No. 4 Notre Dame in a game that figures to have major College Football Playoff ramifications. That means Saturday's game could essentially be a dress rehearsal for Uiagalelei before the Tigers' biggest regular season game.
But even if Lawrence is cleared to play against Notre Dame, Saturday will a prime opportunity for Uiagalelei to demonstrate he has the chops to be Clemson's next great quarterback once Lawrence departs for the NFL. Here are three things to know about the man who will be under center for college football's top-ranked team on Saturday.
He's got hype
Lawrence was the No. 1 overall player in the 2018 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite. Uiagalelei wasn't the No. 1 ranked player in the 2020 class, but he wasn't hurting for recruiting accolades, either. He was considered the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the class and No. 10 overall prospect. The only quarterback with a higher ranking in the 247Sports Composite was Alabama's Bryce Young.
Pull up some of Uiagalelei's highlights from St. John Bosco High School in the Los Angeles area and it's easy to see why Clemson coach Dabo Swinney signed the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Uiagalelei as the heir apparent to Lawrence. The film shows a confident passer who can zip the ball into tight spaces and also make touch throws that require some finesse.
He missed the Georgia Tech game
Swinney held Uiagalelei out of Clemson's 73-7 win against Georgia Tech on Oct. 17. He told reporters afterward that the freshman "got beat up a little bit" the previous week. But Uiagalelei returned against Syracuse last week and attempted three passes in mop-up duty.
If for some reason Uiagalelei could not play or had to leave the game Saturday, Clemson's third quarterback is no slouch, either. It's redshirt freshman Taisun Phommachanh, who was considered the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.
He's got baseball talent as well
There was some speculation that Uiagalelei may try and play baseball at Clemson, too. His 247Sports scouting report noted he was also "a potential high round draft pick in Major League Baseball." His profile with the baseball recruiting service Perfect Game noted that in addition to pitching, Uiagalelei can also play first base, third base and outfield.
With a fastball that reportedly reaches the mid-90s, there's little doubt Uiagalelei would have been welcomed on the diamond at Clemson. But Uiagalelei said in September that he "most likely" won't play baseball. "It's always a thought in my head," he said. "It's an option, but most likely I'm just playing football."