The Clemson football program has an interesting quarterback room this season. Returning starter D.J. Uiagalelei is back after an up and down 2021, and true freshman Cade Klubnik arrived on campus for spring practice. Head coach Dabo Swinney knows he has two talented quarterbacks at his disposal, and, while Uiagalelei is the incumbent starter, Klubnik has been impressive so far.
There’s no decision on the starters yet, since it’s early. Although Uiagalelei is the expected starter come September. Speaking with the media during spring practice, Swinney detailed the progress of both quarterbacks throughout the offseason.
“D.J. has had an excellent spring,” Swinney said. “I thought he started a little slow the first series today and then he kind of picked it up and he was like 12 of 20 or something like that, but he had a couple of balls he should’ve made. But he manages things well. He really understands. He’s got great ownership of what he’s doing. It’s well documented where he is physically and all that stuff. Again, he’s had a very good spring. He’s had a couple of great, great days.
“And then, man, Cade just continues to impress. He’s just a really talented young player. Same things as those corners — as advertised and just a sponge. Just loves every bit of it. He’s about 188 (pounds), 190 right now and heading in the right direction there. So just proud of him and proud of those receivers, too. It’s been a good spring. We still don’t have everybody, but what we’ve been able to get done … they’re just different guys.”
Last season, Uiagalelei finished with 2,246 yards, nine touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 55.6% completion percentage. He added 308 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. In limited action as a freshman in 2020, Uiagalelei was more impressive, going 78-of-117 passing (66.7% completion percentage), with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
However, while Uiagalelei is the man right now, Klubnik is a very intriguing player.
As a member of the Class of 2022, Klubnik was a five-star prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite. He was the No. 1 overall prospect in Texas, the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the class and the No. 6 overall prospect in the class.
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“Good height with a lean, athletic, somewhat narrow build,” 247Sports wrote in Klubnik’s high school scouting report. “Mechanics have noticeably improved with reps and experience. A natural at the position. Competitive but calm and poised. One of the most accurate passers in the class whose ball placement and touch stand out. Good pocket awareness with functional athleticism to extend plays when necessary. Good athlete when he gets loose in the open field. Increasingly impressive improvisational ability as an off-schedule playmaker. Varies velocities and touch deftly. Can make all the throws, whether over-the-middle, intermediate bullets, or field-stretching deep balls. Outstanding production vs. Texas Class 6A competition for state championship-caliber team. Impresses in live game action and elite camp settings. Competed in track and field (400 meters, triple jump, long jump) earlier in high school. Occasionally will take unnecessary chances, but owns an exceptional INT rate over a full two seasons starting. Undoubtedly one of the top 2022 quarterbacks in the country. Projects as a multi-year impact starter at the high-major level with NFL Draft high-round potential.”