Saturday night's rivalry game a showcase for nation's top-rated QB
|Tuesday, November 20, 2018, 7:01 AM- -|
The second-ranked Clemson football team will host arch-rival South Carolina under the lights Saturday night in Death Valley, and the nation’s top quarterback prospect for the 2020 recruiting cycle will be on hand to watch.
Five-star quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei of Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco was supposed to make the trip to see Clemson play NC State last month, but a late Friday night game meant a late arrival to the airport.
“We played Santa Margarita and things were going quick and we had the clock running,” said Terry Bullock, one of the St. John Bosco coaches who has been instrumental in Uiagalelei’s recruitment. “And then in the last few minutes the officials threw a lot of penalty flags and everything slowed down. We got out of there sometime after nine, and our flight didn’t leave until 10:59 so we thought we were in good shape.
“We got LAX with about 30 minutes to spare, but then we got bogged down inside the airport. We were running for the gate and they shut the door to the plane just as we came running up. They told us once they close the door they can’t re-open it. We missed it by seconds, and D.J. was really bummed about it.”
The coaches thought about getting Uiagalelei in for last weekend’s Duke game, but St. John Bosco is in the middle of the playoffs and with the rigors of a long season beginning to take its toll, elected to change the visit to this weekend.
“It’s been a long season,” Bullock said. “Considering we would have to get on a plane Friday night and then fly all night, come back Sunday, and then he would have to go to school on Monday, it’s just easier to change it to this weekend. We play this Friday night against Mater Dei for the Division 1 title. If we win that one, the championship game isn’t until Dec. 15th so that gives him enough time to recover. And he’s never been to Clemson for a game, so we really wanted to make sure that happens.”
Last Friday’s win over Christian Oaks sets up a rematch of last year's title game, a 49-24 Mater Dei win. The teams played earlier this season with Bosco recording a 41-18 victory. In that game, Uiagalelei threw five touchdown passes, four in the first half when Bosco took complete control. It snapped a 22-game win streak on the field for Mater Dei. In Friday’s game, Uiagalelei shook off an early interception and completed his next nine passes on his way to a 363-yard, six-touchdown performance to lead Bosco to a 56-10 win over Oaks Christian.
“He has been playing really well,” Bullock said. “Oaks Christian has a running back named Zach Charbonnet that is committed to Michigan, and we held him to under 100 yards (97 yards on 18 carries), so this weekend’s game will be big. We are all looking forward to it. We will catch a flight after the game is over and catch a red-eye to Atlanta. We hope to spend all day Saturday in Clemson and see the game that night.”
The visit is also crucial because Uiagalelei will bring along his father, Big Dave Uiagalelei.
“This is important because DJ will bring along his dad,” Bullock said. “Big Dave has never been to Clemson, and I know that he wants to show his dad why Clemson is so special and why he loves it. It will be good to spend time with the coaches and let him see everything and everybody. That is one of the other reasons we really wanted to make this happen.”
Uiagalelei visited Auburn two weeks ago, and the SEC Tigers are at the top of the list along with Clemson and Oregon, but Uiagalelei also hears from Alabama and Washington.