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Former Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who announced Dec. 5 that he was entering the NCAA transfer portal, is expected to leave the Tigers for Oregon State, per ESPN’s Pete Thamel.
Uiagalelei completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 2,521 yards (6.8 yards per attempt), 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions for the 11-2 Tigers, who have a date with the Tennessee Volunteers in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30. He added 545 rushing yards and seven scores.
It was a marked improvement from the year before, when he completed just 55.6 percent of his passes for 2,246 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He threw for 6.0 yards per attempt.
However, as Scott Keepfer of the Greenville News noted, “Uiagalelei’s performances ran hot and cold this season,” and he was temporarily benched multiple times for freshman backup Cade Klubnik.
Head coach Dabo Swinney made a more permanent switch during the ACC Championship Game against North Carolina after Uiagalelei started 2-of-5 for 10 yards.
Klubnik entered the game and caught fire, completing 20 of 24 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown alongside 30 rushing yards and another score in the 30-10 win. After the matchup, Swinney announced that Klubnik would start the Orange Bowl.
There’s no doubt that the 6’4″, 235-pound Uiagalelei is a tremendous talent. He was the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and the 10th overall prospect in the 2020 class, per the 247Sports composite rankings.
Since Klubnik appears to be favored to start for Clemson in 2023, seeking a fresh start elsewhere appears to be the sharp move for Uiagalelei, who joins an Oregon State program on the rise. The No. 14 Beavers capped a 10-3 season with a 30-3 win over Florida in the Las Vegas Bowl last weekend.
Chance Nolan and Ben Gulbranson were under center for Oregon State this year. Nolan, who played five games before suffering a neck strain and entering concussion protocol, has since entered the transfer portal.
Gulbranson, a third-year freshman, took the bulk of the snaps and completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 1,455 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
On Dec. 2, Nick Daschel of The Oregonian gave a rundown of the Beavers’ QB room next year.
“Expected to return next season are Gulbranson and freshmen Travis Throckmorton and Dom Montiel,” Daschel wrote. “High school senior Aidan Chiles, a 4-star quarterback prospect, made a verbal commitment to OSU and is expected to sign later in December.”
Uiagalelei is now in the mix, though, and could have the upper hand on the QB1 role as Oregon State looks to improve upon its excellent 2022 campaign.
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