Clemson has its successor for its successor for its dynastic creator.
DJ Uiagalelei, widely considered the best quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class, has committed to Clemson. The California native is 6’4″, 240 pounds with a cannon arm and massive expectations heading into college. Sound familiar?
Clemson’s current quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, was widely considered the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the class of 2018. The Georgia native is 6’5″ 210 pounds. He threw for over 3,200 yards and 30 TDs as a freshman and led the Tigers to a National Championship win over Alabama. Sound familiar?
Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was widely considered the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the class of 2014. He led Clemson to two National Championship appearances, including a win in 2016 over Alabama. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2018 and is one of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL.
With Dabo Swinney orchestrating the offense, Clemson has created the perfect pipeline for successfully taking top quarterbacks from high school to college to the NFL and succeeding at the top level along the way. It started with Watson, continues with Lawrence, and could be perfected with Uiagalelei. Uiagalelei is not officially signed yet, so he could wind up somewhere else, but why leave a place that has been turned into the best quarterback factory in college football?
The moniker of “Quarterback U” is historically most associated with Miami, which produced big names like Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, and Gino Torretta. Michigan, USC, Stanford and Purdue have also created their fair share of stars. Right now the debate for QBU comes down to Clemson and Oklahoma.
The Sooners have produced back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners and back-to-back No. 1 overall NFL Draft picks. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray put Oklahoma in the conversation for being the premier destination for high school quarterbacks. But neither of those stars won a National Championship. While the Heisman is important to building a great brand, winning a National Championship is too, and right now Clemson can offer both of those opportunities.
Lawrence is the favorite to take home the Heisman in 2020 and Clemson is the favorite or second favorite to win the National Championship. Oklahoma will likely start Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts at quarterback after Hurts lost his battle with Tua Tagovailoa for the starting job in Tuscaloosa last year. Advantage Clemson.
In the NFL, Mayfield turned heads with his outstanding rookie season, but Murray faces many questions with the Arizona Cardinals, including if his body type can withstand the rigors of the NFL. Watson faced similar concerns after tearing his ACL during his rookie season, but he already bounced back to earn a Pro Bowl trip in 2018, during which he also led the Houston Texans to the playoffs. Mayfield hasn’t accomplished either of those things yet in Cleveland. Advantage Clemson.
A lot goes into a high school athlete’s college decision. Proximity, tradition, values, academics, coaching, and much more. But when it comes to high school quarterbacks, it’s clear Clemson is a preferred destination and the more great QBs it signs, the more its reputation as QBU will be solidified.