The Clemson Tiger’s commitment to team chemistry has been pivotal in the program’s success. Every player, coach and support staff exemplify the importance of a Clemson family.
“History, tradition passion — it's been that way at Clemson forever,” said head coach Dabo Swinney in a post-game press conference this past Saturday, Nov. 13.
It is important that every player trusts their team. Trust is built with time, and the perfect example of that is the impeccable connection quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and wide receiver Beaux Collins have built with each other over the past four years.
The odds of playing with a high school teammate at the collegiate level are slim to none since the recruitment process is often random. However, Uiagalelei and Collins defied those odds.
St. John Bosco High School, an all-male boarding school located in Bellflower, California, has an enrollment of only 855 students. Despite the small size, the school consistently churns out players to some of the top collegiate football programs in the nation.
Uiagalelei and Collins met at St. John Bosco. Uiagalelei began to make his name nationally-recognized here, touting the No. 2 quarterback rank of the class of 2020. In his career at St. John Bosco, Uiagalelei recorded 127 touchdown passes, over 10,000 passing yards and threw only 11 interceptions.
Tiger Fans can see the importance of that previously-established connection. As a freshman, Collins has recorded 241 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Against the University of Louisville, Collins caught a 46-yard pass from Uiagalelei.
“That was pretty special, man, to throw a touchdown to him,” said Uiagalelei after the game.
It may be hard to believe, but Collins only played two years of high school football before being recruited to play for Clemson. Collins totaled 16 touchdowns and 1,232 receiving yards in his sophomore and junior seasons with St. John Bosco and Uiagalelei. Collins was unable to play his senior year due to the pandemic.
In 2019, Uiagalelei’s senior year and Collins’ junior year, the duo led St. John Bosco to the California state championship. That same year, St. John Bosco was named the national champion.
These statistics quantify the connection between Collins and Uiagalelei: 12% of Uiagalelei’s passing yards landed in the hands of Collins, and he scored about 13% of all touchdowns Uiagalelei threw for in his high school career.
“That’s my dawg,” Collins said of Uiagalelei in February. “Being able to come here, continue that legacy with him is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Uiagalelei and Collins will look to build on their chemistry in the last two regular season games of the season. They both may be young, but the connection between the former high school teammates could prove to be a huge factor in Clemson’s success.
This article appeared in The Tiger’s Nov. 18 print edition. It may differ in formatting or content due to space constraints.