A once highly touted quarterback gets a chance to put a new spin on the narrative around his college football career in what amounts to a fresh start with No. 18 Oregon State.
The first chance for former Clemson signal-caller D.J. Uiagalelei arrives Sunday afternoon when the Beavers open their regular season in a nonconference match on the road against San Jose State (0-1).
Uiagalelei spent three seasons at Clemson, starting 28 games and appearing in 36 overall. He showed flashes of his great potential but ultimately entered the transfer portal as the Tigers failed to achieve the same success as they did under previous top quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Oregon State gladly offered a landing spot for Uiagalelei and confirmed his starting role this week.
“He just continued to get better and better,” Beavers head coach Jonathan Smith said. “We had two big scrimmages and he played the best in those two.”
Behind Uiagalelei on the quarterback depth chart will be freshman Aidan Chiles and redshirt sophomore Ben Gulbranson. Chiles was a four-star recruit out of California and figures to get an opportunity if Uiagalelei struggles or gets injured this season.
Oregon State is hoping to pick up where it left off last season, when it finished with seven wins in its last eight games. The Beavers finished with a 10-3 record, including 6-3 in the Pac-12 Conference.
As Oregon State prepares for its season debut, San Jose State will face a ranked opponent for the second time in as many weeks. The Spartans visited No. 6 Southern California at L.A. Memorial Coliseum last week, when they started respectably but ultimately lost 56-28 to the Trojans.
“We didn’t make the plays we needed to stay in it and keep it close, and I was disappointed we had a couple breakdowns that really hurt us,” San Jose State head coach Brent Brennan said. “But that’s football. I think we’ve got a resilient team. We’ve got some really talented kids on this team.”
San Jose State’s Chevan Cordeiro completed 21 of 38 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns against USC. He also rushed 10 times for 52 yards.
Quali Conley had 108 rushing yards on only six carries to lead the Spartans, and Nick Nash caught a team-high six passes for 89 yards and three touchdowns.
The Spartans’ performance against USC caught the attention of Smith and his Oregon State squad.
“There’s some advantages of being able to see their first game on tape and I think there’s some disadvantages,” Smith said. “Usually you make a huge jump in improvement from week one to week two.
“I think being able to see them on tape compete at a high level against a really good football team — they went toe to toe with those guys for a long time. They had our attention, but it raised our urgency recognizing how good (of) a football team this is.”
Oregon State leads the all-time series 4-2. This will be the programs’ first meeting since 2015, when the Beavers pulled away for a 35-21 win on their home field.
The teams have not met in San Jose since 1988, a 41-27 Oregon State victory.
–Field Level Media