With Saturday’s rivalry game just around the corner, quarterbacks DJ Uiagalelei and Spencer Rattler will face off for the first time in their collegiate careers when the annual Clemson-Carolina game returns to Memorial Stadium for the first time since 2018.
“I’ve met Spencer a few times, I know Spencer really well,” Uiagalelei said. “He’s a great guy. I met him my junior year in high school when he was a senior. I was in Oklahoma when he was in Oklahoma. I met him there and hung out with him, he’s a really good guy. I like Spencer a lot.”
Although the quarterback pair have had very different paths to get to where they are today, both have experienced their fair share of adversity.
Rattler transferred from Oklahoma after three seasons after freshman Caleb Williams won the starting job via junior for the Sooners. Uiagalelei experienced some adversity of his own in his first season at the helm of the Tigers after taking on the role of three-year starter and first-round draft pick Trevor Lawrence, who was boosted by Clemson’s injury woes on both sides of the ball in 2021.
“They made a change in Oklahoma, and so did he [Rattler] kept going,” said head coach Dabo Swinney. “I think the quarterbacks get blamed a lot sometimes, like last year when DJ didn’t play well, but we weren’t very good around him either. I think it took them some time this year to really get going and now these kids are doing plays for him. He’s a very talented player.
“They both had their ups and downs but DJ played really well for us, apart from two games he played well. He’s 21-5 as a starter, he’s a winner, he’s a great leader and he’s an incredibly dedicated guy. I don’t know Spencer, I’ve never met him I don’t think so, but I have a lot of respect for him as a player and he has all the tools.”
Brandon Streeter, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, echoed Swinney’s sentiments, adding that while the situations of the two quarterbacks couldn’t have been more different, the high expectations are similar.
“There are definitely some [similarities] As far as expectations go, it’s a little bit different but also similar in a way, just if you have those high expectations when you come into a program where you’re expected to be the save-all guy,” Streeter said. “Sometimes it’s not easy to handle”
While Uiagalelei himself doesn’t seek to compare his journey to others, the quarterback sees in the Gamecock quarterback a little of his own journey and the way he’s stayed true to himself along the way.
“I think he’s done a great job with his journey and just stays with him as a person and stays the person he is,” Uiagalelei said. “I feel like he just did a good job just playing his game and not listening to the sounds from outside. I haven’t seen much of the season and how he played, but overall Spencer Rattler is a good guy for me. A guy I’ve met and a guy I know, he’s a great guy, a great person, a good footballer and I’m just happy for him.”
Three Tigers selected in the first round of this Thanksgiving 2023 NFL Mock Draft
Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire