Oregon State has named DJ Uiagalelei its starting quarterback to open the 2023 season, multiple outlets report. Uiagalelei was the odds-on favorite to win the starting job after an offseason transfer from Clemson, where he served as the starting quarterback for the Tigers the bulk of the past two seasons. He was competing with Ben Gulbranson and Aidan Chiles through preseason camp at Oregon State.
A former five-star prospect in the 2020 recruiting class, Uiagalelei passed for 5,681 yards and 36 touchdowns against 17 interceptions across three seasons at Clemson. The Tigers won the 2022 ACC Championship, but Uiagalelei was benched for then-true freshman Cade Klubnik during the league title game. Klubnik surpassed him on the depth chart shortly after, prompting Uiagalelei to enter the transfer portal.
Uiagalelei finds himself now set to take the reins of the offense for Oregon State program that looks to build off an impressive finish to the 2022 campaign. Ranked No. 18 in this year's preseason AP Top 25 poll, the Beavers won 10 games last year for the first time since 2006, and are forecasted to be a factor in the Pac 12 title race this fall. The Beavers enter their sixth season under coach Jonathan Smith, who is 26-31 overall.
Uiagalelei can shine with Beavers in realignment crosshairs
A Southern California native, Uiagalelei now finds himself back out on the West Coast and with a chance to be part of something special. The Beavers enter the season with some urgency to win. The Pac-12 is teetering on the brink of collapse and Oregon State is only one of four members left following the latest round of defections. There's no promise that the Beavers will be playing in what constitutes as power conference beyond the 2023 season. At this point, Oregon State has not been seriously linked as an expansion candidate for another power conference as most of its Pac-12 partners prepare to leave for greener pastures.
With the Beavers feeling the pressure to make a splash this year, Uiagalelei might just be the key to turning thing up a notch for Oregon State's offense this fall. Despite the ups and downs at Clemson, he wasn't a five-star prospect on accident. The nation saw his upside during his freshman year at Clemson when he passed for 439 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Trevor Lawrence during a double-overtime loss at Notre Dame. If he's able to be more consistent and limit mistakes at his new home, Uiagalalei could become a problem for opposing defenses.
The Beavers expect to face their first big test of the season on Sept. 29 when they host No. 14 Utah -- the two-time defending Pac-12 champion. The end of the regular season also figures to be tricky for Oregon State with back-to-back games against Washington and rival Oregon -- also both preseason AP Top 25 teams -- on the docket. The Beavers host the Huskies on Nov. 18 before going on the road to face the Ducks on Nov. 24 for the annual "Civil War" game.