Georgia-Clemson 2021 ‘Game of Year’ hype: QBs battled at rival high schools
ATHENS — Georgia quarterback JT Daniels and Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei will face off in an opening week college football battle that could prove to be the game of the year.
The Bulldogs and the Tigers are renewing what was once one of the most celebrated rivalries in the South on Sept. 4 at Bank of American Stadium in both team’s season-opening games.
Dabo Swinney told DawgNation in the spring of 2018 in an exclusive interview that Georgia and Clemson should play every year, and the next thing you know, the two had a neutral site game scheduled for this fall.
Georgia and Clemson will likely enter next season ranked in the Top 5 and might ultimately meet again in the College Football Playoffs if their seasons go as planned.
For the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Daniels and the 6-4, 250 Uiagalelei, two meetings against one another in one season would not be unprecedented.
Some three seasons ago, Daniels and Uiagalelei played on Oct. 13, 2017, in what the Los Angeles Times touted at the time as “The Game of the Year.”
It was a battle of prep teams from Southern California’s Trinity League, which MaxPreps recently declared as the toughest high school football league in the country.
Daniels led Mater Dai to its first Trinity League title as a sophomore the season before, but St. John Bosco avenged the loss in the playoffs and went on to win California’s 2016 Open Division State Championship.
Uiagalelei beat out the returning starting QB for St. John’s Bosco in 2017 – Temple QB Re’Al Mitchell — so he was under center to face Daniels for both meetings.
Daniels won twice against the current Clemson quarterback in the two high school meetings, out-dueling Uiagalelei in the first meeting, a 31-21 Monarchs victory.
Daniels was 18-of-24 passing for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns in that meeting, and he carried the ball 8 times for 97 yards including a 55-yard touchdown run.
Uiagalelei was 12-of-22 passing for 257 yards with 2 touchdowns and had a 17-yard scramble.
Daniels was even more efficient in Mater Dei’s second win over Uiagalelei and St. John’s Bosco in the playoffs, throwing for 5 touchdowns with 19 passes completed on 26 attempts, and 3 carries for 34 yards including an 18-yard run.
Uiagalelei was also sound, 20-of-21 passing for 172 yards with 2 TD along with 8 carries for 48 yards.
Quarterbacks from the Trinity League are nothing new to the SEC: Stanford quarterback KJ Costello started at the beginning of last season for Mississippi State, and South Carolina QB Ryan Hilinski is in the portal but might still stay with the Gamecocks.
Bryce Young, who figures to take over the Alabama offense in 2021, took over the Mater Dei starting duties after Daniels left high school a year early to enroll at Southern Cal.
Here’s a look at how Daniels and Uiagalelei compared statistically in 2020:
JT Daniels 80-of-119 passing, 1,231 yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs
DJ Uiagalelei 78-of-117 passing, 914 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs
JT Daniels at Georgia stories