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Klubnik comments on his relationship with Uiagalelei

Matt Mynes // Photo Editor

Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) and DJ Uiagalelei (5) talk with each other during the Tigers’ matchup against Georgia Tech on Sept. 5, 2022, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

In a Next Up podcast interview with college football analyst Adam Breneman, Clemson starting quarterback Cade Klubnik elaborated on his relationship with former signal-caller DJ Uiagalelei, who announced his departure for Oregon State University in December.

Despite Klubnik taking over for Uiagalelei in the ACC Championship game and winning the job with his standout performance, the former five-star freshman has no ill will toward his former mentor.

“I think a lot of people always try to make us butt heads, but it really wasn’t like that,” Klubnik said.

Once a Tiger, always a Tiger rang true in this instance, as Klubnik revealed he stays in regular contact with Uiagalelei.

“I mean, we were just texting the other day, and that’s a super special relationship,” he said. 

“He’s a very, very selfless guy,” Klubnik added. “He texted me after the Orange Bowl telling me to keep my head up. Not one time has he put himself above anybody else or pointed fingers.”

Before the Orange Bowl and ACC Championship game, however, the former five-star recruit had to wait his turn to take over Clemson’s offense. Although he wanted to play, he trusted that the move would be on “God’s timing” and not his.  

“It’s challenging at times, but I knew my role,” Klubnik said. “I just kind of kept my head down and kept working. Not one time did I think I should be the starter, or I should be doing this, or I should do that. I trusted coach Swinney.”

Uiagalelei faced his fair share of adversity during his time at Clemson, plagued by injuries and subpar performances, which often were met with jeers from fans. Now that Klubnik has stepped into a high-pressure starting position, he looks to Uiagalelei’s stress-management style for guidance. 

“That showed so much to me over the past year; just his work ethic through it all. I’ve loved getting to hang out with him. He’s an amazing guy.” 

Klubnik partially credits this tight-knit bond to former offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter, who he alluded to ensuring that the two quarterbacks bonded and respected each other. 

Being a starting quarterback in college football is no easy job, regardless of the circumstances. But as Klubnik looks to lead the Tigers back to the promised land in 2023, it appears that Uiagalelei’s teachings could go a long way. 

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Grace O'Donnell, Sports Editor
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