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Lighter Uiagalelei eager to bounce back in the fall

Courtesy of Clemson Athletics

D.J. Uiagalelei throws the ball at a 2020 practice.

Winning 10 games for many college football quarterbacks is considered a tremendous season, but for Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, the Tigers’ (10-3) record last season left him unsatisfied. Now, with spring practice in full swing, Uiagalelei has a positive outlook towards next season and has even lost significant weight.  

Coming off a Cheez-It Bowl victory in December, in which he had 187 passing yards and one interception, Uiagalelei entered his offseason with plenty of doubt from fans.  

He finished his sophomore season with 2,246 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions, in addition to the pressure of new five-star quarterback signee Cade Klubnik enrolling this spring. 

Despite the questions surrounding the quarterback position next season, Uiagalelei is still confident in his abilities and has lost weight to improve his athleticism.  

According to him, he has lost 20-25 pounds, now putting him at 240 pounds. He added that he would like to lose a few more pounds to be at 230-235 pounds.  

“You kind of see the TB12 (Tom Brady) diet and stuff like that where your body’s like a temple,” Uiagalelei said. “That’s what I’ve kind of been doing. Working out twice a day, eating right. I’ve been on the meal plan.” 

Uiagalelei specifically added that fast food and ice cream were the cravings he has cut out of his diet, but he will continue to eat Bojangles, the fast-food company that he has a deal with, in moderation.  

“That was something we talked about,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said about Uiagalelei’s weight loss. “But, it was definitely his decision… He’s just maturing as a young person and understands that he’s never going to be little. He’s just a big man. But he knew that he could do a little better job with some of his composition.” 

Uiagalelei added that although his heavier weight did not affect his performance last season, the weight loss will help him be faster and more mobile on the field. 

In terms of his playing ability, Uiagalelei believes he has the ability to succeed.  

“I feel like my confidence is at an all-time high,” Uiagalelei said on March 4. “I feel like it’s been at the same spot where it has been in my whole career. I’m just ready to come out here and just compete and continue to get better every day.” 

Aside from his self-confidence, Uiagalelei also expressed his faith in the team around him.  

“From the point where we are now, I feel that we are a lot further ahead than we were last year,” Uiagalelei said. “I feel [offensively], we’re a lot older, a lot more grown-up, so a lot of the guys in the first group, even the second group, I feel like they are a lot more experienced, a lot more ready to go.” 

Swinney reiterated Uiagalelei’s sentiments in his March 2 press conference.  

“This team is battle-tested,” Swinney said. “This is a mentally and physically tougher football team than we were this time last year.” 

Physically, Clemson dealt with significant injuries across all position groups, ranging from defensive tackle Bryan Bresee’s torn ACL to wide receiver Justyn Ross’ foot injury. Even Uiagalelei dealt with a knee and finger injury, of which the knee is still recovering. 

With the opener against Georgia Tech just under six months away, Uiagalelei now looks to improve from last year’s performance and keep his starting job.

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