DJ Uiagalelei was the starting quarterback for the Clemson Tigers before being removed as the starter on Saturday night. His replacement? Freshman, Cade Klubnik.
After a second consecutive three-and-out from Uiagalelei, Klubnik proceeded to earn legend status amongst the Clemson Tiger faithful. He went 20-of-24 for 309 total yards and two total touchdowns and earned MVP honors for an outstanding performance.
Those unfamiliar with what’s been going on in Clemson over the past few years…Uiagalelei replaced Trevor Lawrence after he was drafted number one overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021. The new next one had all the hype. His talent, character and all tangibles of a leader were there, they were never questioned. But the biggest drawback, or should I say the negatives that were consistently thrown around was that he couldn’t win the big games and was costing Clemson its biggest opportunities.
Now, I’ve never spoken to Uiagalelei, I don’t know him personally, and all that I know about him is what I’ve read and what I’ve seen on the field.
Uiagalelei was interviewed after the game, and I’m not sure how he kept so poised and positive, but I’m telling you, if I’m a coach and I’m looking for a QB, he ‘s the guy.
This whole situation reminds me of my sophomore year at York College (now York University). We were a rebuilding team trying to find our way. A bunch of young men playing a game they loved. There was a turnover after my freshman year including new pitchers. I had a pretty decent first year coming off All-Conference Honorable Mention etc…but that success didn’t carryover into year two.
We struggled. I was still in the starting rotation, but lost my number one spot and deservedly so. I could have done countless things better. Paid more attention to my body, took better care of myself, but I didn’t and it showed. I went 0-12. It was bad all-around. Sure there were bright spots. But that was the most disappointing ball I ever played, yet I was still able to learn and grow and be a better teammate and person. The next two years were immeasurably better from a personal standpoint and my performance on the field.
That’s what this whole post is about. When life decides to throw you a curveball (yes, cliche), it’s how you handle it. You can make everyone around you miserable or you can ensure that the people around you are fully aware that you are who you say you are.
Whether it’s a teammate, a colleague, friends, children…someone is watching you. They’re watching how you handle yourself when everything is coming up Milhouse. They’re also watching and listening when you are not at your best. If you are who you say you are, then you exude stability, integrity, professionalism, and accountability.
And when you’re viewed as a leader that comes into play countless times during the day.