With the future in mind, thinner Uiagalelei may not lose weight

DJ Uiagalelei and his new offensive coordinator, Brandon Streeter, offered a list of on-field improvements, both wanting Clemson’s rising junior quarterback to make it this offseason.

Before getting to that point, however, Uiagalelei’s first task was to lose weight.

Clemson had their first spring training sessions with a noticeably slimmer Uiagalelei in charge of the attack. Uiagalelei said he was down to 240 pounds after peaking at 260 last season. And he would always like to lose a few more.

“Probably go down a bit more to 235 or 230,” he said. “Go on and see how many.”

Clemson trainer Dabo Swinney says he talked with Uiagalelei about losing weight and working on his body composition, but ultimately it was Uiagalelei who decided to s engage in it. Uiagalelei said he played during the later stages of his high school career at St. John Bosco around 250 pounds – “he’ll never be small, ever,” Swinney joked – but his decision to lose weight, he said, had a lot to do with taking his future seriously.

“I feel like in terms of longevity and career, you kind of see the TB12 diet and stuff like that,” Uiagalelei said, referring to the future Hall of Famer’s meal plan. of the NFL, Tom Brady. “Your body is like a temple. You want to be able to treat your body like a Ferrari. Stop putting fast food in me and try to treat it like a luxury car.

That means there’s no more In-N-Out Burger, a popular fast-food joint that originated in California, Uiagalelei’s home state. No more Jack in the Box either, Uiagalelei said.

And Bojangles? Uiagalelei said he always shows the regional chain of chicken restaurants some love – he has a name, image and likeness to them after all – but in moderation.

“Right now I’m just cutting it for a little while,” he said with a smile. “I eat it sometimes.

“It was easy though. You look at it, and if I want to achieve the goals that I have in mind and want to be able to achieve them, it’s easy to give up.

Uiagalelei now follows a meal plan that emphasizes portion control. Besides breakfast, which he usually eats on campus, Uiagalelei said he gets prepared meals delivered to his doorstep.

“After the season, when I got home (to California), I was eating a lot for quite a while,” Uiagalelei said. “I was like, ‘Dang, I need to lose weight.’ … I wanted to get a little lighter. Easier on my knees and things like that.

Being faster on his feet is another potential benefit Uiagalelei has seen from playing at a lighter weight. While he doesn’t think hovering in the 250s for much of last season necessarily affected his overall performance, Uiagalelei said he could sometimes feel his mobility was lacking in the pocket last season, which has contributed to some of the 21 sacks Clemson allowed a season ago. .

Breakdowns along the offensive line and holding the ball too long were also contributing factors. Whatever the reason, Swinney said the “very first thing” Uiagalelei needs to improve is avoiding sacks, most of which he took early in the season before being limited by a sprained knee. He was sacked seven times alone in Clemson’s first loss to eventual national champion Georgia.

“I know looking back, if I lose weight, I can be a lot faster and more mobile,” Uiagalelei said.

The high sack total was part of a rollercoaster first season as Clemson’s full-time starter for Uiagalelei, who completed just 55.6% of his passes and threw more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes (9). He has shown gradual improvement over the last six games, completing almost 57% of his passes. That included a two-touchdown day without turnovers in a win over Louisville and a 156.6 efficiency rating to help Clemson defeat Atlantic Division champion Wake Forest, easily his highest of the season.

There are other things the coaching staff want Uiagalelei to work on, especially when it comes to strengthening his mechanics. Swinney is still confident his new quarterback will pull it off.

“He’s a really good athlete,” Swinney said. “And him working the way he worked, I think it’s going to pay dividends for him.”

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