Domino Effect: D.J. Uiagalelei's commitment to Clemson
Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of physics states that for every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction. And while Newton wasn’t known for his love of football recruiting, his principals can easily be applied to reaction a major commit can have on the recruiting landscape.
On Sunday, the nation’s No. 1 overall player, California quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei made his commitment to Clemson, a move that will send reverberations across the college football recruiting landscape. Today we examine the programs that could be impacted by his decision.
How are the Tide impacting by Uiagalelei’s decision considering they weren’t in contention for him by the time his decision came down Sunday? Well, it’s clear that Alabama and Clemson are competing with each other on a yearly basis for the nation’s top talent and after a phenom lead the Tigers to a win over Alabama in last year’s national championship game, it’s hard for Tide fans not to notice another five-star, No. 1 overall player heading to Death Valley. After losing a commitment from Carson Beck earlier in the year, Alabama is without a quarterback commit in the class and is left trying to flip USC commitment Bryce Young with other names quickly coming off the board at the position around the country. Uiagalelei going to Clemson isn’t going to impact the Tide’s chances at returning the College Football Playoff, but it’s a move that will be felt in Tuscaloosa regardless.
The Ducks were left at the altar by Uiagalelei, and unfortunately, finishing second in the years long race to land Uiagalelei doesn’t really do much for the program's efforts to find a replacement for Justin Herbert. The Ducks pulled out all the stops in their pursuit of Uiagalelei, including bringing former Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota to Eugene to coincide with Uiagalelei’s last visit. But with Uiagalelei’s decision likely final, Oregon must now move onto other options. At the top of the list appears to be Rivals250 quarterback Jay Butterfield, who also visited last month and is viewed as the Ducks contingency plan to Uiagalelei. The question is, if the Ducks land Butterfield, will he be the lone quarterback in the class? If the Ducks elect to take two, even more programs will be impacted.
While Butterfield was on campus in Eugene in April, he also made a stop at the Ducks' hated rival, Oregon State. The Beavers offered in late February and the fact that he visited six weeks later means he’s at least open to hearing the school’s pitch. Now, with Uiagalelei not heading to Oregon and Butterfield looking like he ends up at Duck, his next trip to Corvallis might be in an Oregon uniform.
The Cardinal have yet to take a quarterback in the class and usually wait until after their on-campus summer camp to make a final decision at the position. Butterfield, a Stanford legacy, has long coveted a Cardinal offer, but with Uiagalelei off the market and the Ducks pushing to land him, will he make it back to The Farm again? Only time will tell. The Cardinal have yet to offer one quarterback in the class and might be playing catch up with several big names coming off the market.
The Trojans made an early decision to prioritize Bryce Young at the quarterback position in the 2020 class, with Uiagalelei’s professional baseball prospects enough to create concern that he might not play college football at all. While Young has stuck with the Trojans through a forgettable 2018 season and three offensive coordinators in less than a year, lately he has begun to listen more to programs like Oklahoma and Alabama. The odds are still in favor of Young sticking with the Trojans, but if he were to flip and head out of state, missing on Uiagalelei and Young would be quite the tough pill for USC fans to swallow.