Is D.J. Uiagalelei Michigan State’s Next Quarterback?
The Michigan State Spartans have their new head coach in Jonathan Smith, but have no quarterbacks on the roster. All three quarterbacks, Katin Houser, Noah Kim and Sam Leavitt have all announced intentions to enter the Transfer Portal.
Smith joins the program just ahead of the Transfer Portal opening on December 4th, and one of his former quarterbacks has announced his intentions to enter the portal. Is Michigan State's next quarterback a former five-star recruit?
According to reports from 247Sports Matt Zenitz, former top-2 recruit and five-star quarterback for the Clemson Tigers and Oregon State Beavers, D.J. Uiagalelei, will enter the Transfer Portal. Smith was able to land Uiagalelei out of the Transfer Portal last year and revive his career after a stunted start at Clemson.
It's possible that Uiagalelei (pronounced: oo-ee-ANH-gah-leh-lay) could follow his head coach from the 2023 season to East Lansing. Under Smith, Uiagalelei threw for 2,638 yards and 21 touchdowns to 7 interceptions while completing 57% of his passes. At Clemson, Uiagalelei threw for 5,681 yards with 36 touchdowns to 17 interceptions while completing 59% of his passes across three seasons.
While Uiagalelei's stats don't pop much louder than his Clemson days, the general consensus is that Uiagalelei appeared much more comfortable in Smith's scheme than he did with the Tigers, excluding his impressive freshman season.
One aspect leaning out of Smith's favor to employ Uiagalelei in 2024 is that East Lansing is a long way away from the West Coast, which was an aspect the California product with Samoan heritage enjoyed about Oregon State after three years in South Carolina.
Uiagalelei isn't the only big-name quarterback in the portal. Smith will have to land one to compete immediately. His options include:
- Duke's Riley Leonard
- Arkansas's KJ Jefferson
- Miami's Tyler Van Dyke
- Mississippi State's Will Rogers
and many others, with more likely on the way.
With only Henry Hasselbeck, the son of former NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, verbally committed in the 2024 recruiting class, Smith will have to fill his quarterback room through the transfer portal, while juggling a roster that is sure to see plenty of turnover at every other position as well.
The Michigan State Spartans Top-15 Passing Leaders
Gallery Credit: Jacob Harrison