Source: Oregon St. names Uiagalelei starting QB

Oregon State has named DJ Uiagalelei, the Clemson transfer, as its starting quarterback to open the 2023 season, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Uiagalelei, who started the past two seasons at Clemson, had been competing with redshirt sophomore Ben Gulbranson and true freshman Aidan Chiles. He transferred to Oregon State in December, shortly after being benched for freshman Cade Klubnik in the ACC championship game.

Oregon State opens the season Sept. 3 at San Jose State, which will play its first game Saturday at USC. The Oregonian first reported Uiagalelei’s selection as the starter.

Uiagalelei had 5,681 passing yards with 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in three years at Clemson. In 2020, he had 439 passing yards in his first career start against Notre Dame — a record for a visiting player at Notre Dame Stadium. But Uiagalelei struggled during the 2021 season, throwing more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes (9). He had better numbers last season but was replaced several times by Klubnik.

ESPN rated Uiagalelei as the top pocket passer and No. 43 overall recruit in the 2020 class. Uiagalelei told ESPN this spring that he transferred to Oregon State largely because of an offensive scheme he felt could better prepare him for the NFL.

“A little more complex than I was doing at Clemson, a little more NFL-style,” he said. “The different stuff you do, under center, the play-actions, the deep overs, that’s why I wanted to come here.”

Gulbranson went 7-1 as Oregon State’s starting quarterback in 2022, while passing for 1,455 yards and nine touchdowns, as the team went 10-3 and finished No. 17 in the AP poll. But Oregon State ranked No. 104 nationally in pass offense, leading to the team seeking a high-profile transfer. Chiles, an ESPN four-star recruit who enrolled early, had impressed in practices during the spring and summer.

Uiagalelei shined during Oregon State’s scrimmage Aug. 12, throwing three touchdown passes. But coach Jonathan Smith said Aug. 15 there still wasn’t separation in the quarterback race.

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