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Uiagalelei provides value in early Heisman odds

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

September 14th, 2021

We are now two weeks into the college football season, and that means we've had enough time to look at Heisman Trophy candidates.

The top of the futures board has the expected favorites, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. But farther down, we can find value from players who haven’t yet made a massive impression.

Heisman Trophy 2021

Sun, December 5 2021, 10:57 AM

Young, Bryce

+150

Corral, Matt

+500

Rattler, Spencer

+800

Willis, Malik

+800

Daniels, JT

+1400

Ridder, Desmond

+1600

Stroud, C.J.

+2000

Uiagalelei, D.J.

+2200

Brown, Anthony

+2500

Verdell, CJ

+3000

Uiagalelei still has value

One player that stands out at double-digit odds is Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.

Uiagalelei struggled on opening night against Georgia, when he gave the Bulldogs a touchdown through an interception and delivered zero touchdowns for the Tigers. He has fallen all the way to +2200 to win the college football's most prestigious individual trophy.

Entering the season, however, Uiagalelei was the second favorite to win the Heisman, anywhere from +500 to +700. At 6'4" and 250 pounds, he will likely end up a top 10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He was a consensus five-star recruit and has all the arm talent necessary to be an elite quarterback in the college game. His stock in the Heisman race saw a drop after Week 1, but he is a blue chipper who is certain to churn forward with great success over time.

In the glimpse of Uiagalelei’s game we saw in 2020, he looked impressive, completed 66.7% of his passes, threw for an average of 7.8 yards per attempt, and tallied five touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Against Georgia, he completed just 19 of his 37 pass attempts for 178 yards, but Georgia demonstrated in that matchup that it may have the most elite defense in the country, by a wide margin.

In his bounceback effort against cupcake South Carolina State, Uiagalelei completed 14 of his 24 pass attempts for 171 yards and just one touchdown. That kind of output isn’t going to win anyone the Heisman, but it isn’t a preview of what is to come for this future star. He wasn’t called on to do much because of a wide talent gap, as Clemson won 49-3.

Clemson will lean on Uiagalelei against ACC foes

As the Tigers begin ACC play, look for Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to call on his quarterback to take a bigger role in the offense.

After the loss to Georgia, the Tigers need overwhelm every opponent to show the College Football Playoff committee they are worthy. Their best opportunity to do that will be to have Uiagalelei air it out to talented receivers Justyn Ross and Joseph Ngata, among others.

There is little doubt that Clemson is the best team in the ACC, by a wide margin. The Tigers' failings against Georgia won’t be forgotten, but they could be forgiven, if Georgia continues to dominate.

Judging by the history of the Heisman in the modern era, winning games is as imperative to picking a winner as is the quality of play. In the last 10 years, Lamar Jackson is the only Heisman winner who played for a team that achieved fewer than 10 wins.

The award has also been given to quarterbacks on successful teams. Twelve of the last 15 winners have been quarterbacks, so the list of candidates this season is likely limited to Young, Rattler, Uiagalelei, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Georgia’s JT Daniels, and Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder.

At +2200 to win the Heisman, and with a full season of winning ahead of him, value sits with the Clemson quarterback. He is every bit as talented as his peers, and the Heisman is won in November, not September. Get in on Uiagalelei now, as his odds will probably be half that or less in a couple months.

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