The Clemson Tigers have a massive hole to fill at quarterback after three-year starter Trevor Lawrence headed to the NFL as the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. While D.J. Uiagalelei figures to take over the lead job in 2021, the rest of Dabo Swinney’s plan at the position remains unclear.
With just over a month to go before the start of the regular season, Clemson finally revealed its tentative plan at quarterback this week.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Tigers quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter revealed that second-year player Hunter Helms will be Uiagalelei’s backup to start the year. He did note that it remains a competition, according to Alexis Cubit of The State.
Helms performed admirably during his brief stints on the field in his first year with the program. Over the course of three games, he completed 9 of 12 passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns in 22 snaps played.
However, Helms might be tasked with doing more in 2021. If anything were to happen to Uiagalelei, as it did to Lawrence last year, the second-year quarterback would need to step in and do his best to keep Clemson at the top of the ACC and in the best position to earn another College Football Playoff berth.
Clemson quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter says Hunter Helms will be the backup QB this fall, but also notes it’s still a competition.
— Alexis Cubit (@Alexis_Cubit) July 20, 2021
Although Helms will play a pivotal role in Clemson’s upcoming season, all eyes will be on Uiagalelei. The rising sophomore played well when he was thrown into the fire last year, but did drop an overtime thriller to Notre Dame that almost cost the Tigers a playoff spot. Uiagalelei ended his freshman campaign completing 66.6 percent of his passes for 914 yards and 5 touchdowns. He added 60 yards and four scores on the ground with his punishing 6-foot-4, 260-pound frame.
In 2021, Uiagalelei will need to take a step forward to keep Clemson on top of the ACC. Swinney and the Tigers expect to get back into the College Football Playoff this December and will need their starting quarterback to take them there.