4 Clemson football freshmen to watch against Virginia

This coming Saturday, the Clemson football square off against the Virginia Cavaliers. While Bronco Mendenhall’s 1-0 Cavaliers plan on putting up a fight, Dabo Swinney’s 2-0 Tigers have their eyes set on a dominating win. These two teams last met in the 2019 ACC Championship Game, where No. 3 Clemson stomped No. 22 Virginia 62-17.

If the Tigers build a commanding lead this weekend, expect a lot of highlights from these four true freshmen.

D.J. Uiagalelei, QB

Uiagalelei saw touches against Wake Forest and the Citadel. In Clemson’s most recent win, the California product ran for two touchdowns after the Tigers pulled Trevor Lawrence. Uiagalelei is 10-14 for 91 yards this season, and he should continue seeing playing time as Clemson piles up huge leads and easy victories.

247Sports lists Uiagalelei as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2020 recruiting class and the No. 10 overall prospect. Clemson prioritized bringing in a quarterback who could learn from Lawrence because this is probably his final collegiate season. Many analysts believe Lawrence is the future No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, making finding an understudy essential for Clemson.

Uiagalelei shouldn’t see any extended action against Clemson’s ranked opponents this season, but he’s slowly gaining experience in the team’s offense. If Saturday’s game turns into a blowout, expect the Tigers to give Uiagalelei more freedom than he had in the first two games.

E.J. Williams, WR

Williams made his first meaningful impact on a game for Clemson two weeks ago. Against the Citadel, Williams caught three passes for 58 yards. The freshman saw some extra snaps after sophomore Joseph Ngata wasn’t about to play. However, Ngata should return to action this week.

Williams joined Clemson as a four-star recruit from Alabama. He was the No. 69 player in the nation and No. 13 wide receiver, per 247Sports. The freshman can make a massive impact this year since Clemson doesn’t have an established wide receiver hierarchy. With Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross both gone, there are plenty of touches available for Frank Ladson Jr., Ngata, and Williams.

Bryan Bresee, DT

According to 247Sports, Bresee was the No. 1 recruit in the country for his class. Clemson got lucky, landing the 6-foot-5, roughly 300-pound behemoth. In his first two collegiate games, Bresee tallied four tackles, half a sack and a pass deflection for the Tigers. Along a defensive line loaded with talent, Bresee isn’t getting as many snaps as most No. 1 recruits would, but he’s already carving a spot for himself among Clemson’s best players.

Two of Clemson’s usual starters, defensive end Justin Foster and defensive tackle Tyler Davis, missed the matchup against the Citadel. According to Swinney, Foster is day-to-day, while Davis could be a game-time decision against Virginia. When Davis returns, Bresee might give up a few of his snaps. However, the Maryland native shouldn’t get flustered. He’s in great hands.

Myles Murphy, DE

Murphy is everything the Tigers believed Xavier Thomas could develop into. Thomas joined Clemson as a member of the 2018 recruiting class, which also netted the Tigers Lawrence, Jordan McFadden and Ross. 247Sports listed Thomas as the No. 3 recruit in the nation, only trailing Justin Fields and Lawrence. However, the IMG Academy product only has five sacks in his college career.

If Thomas doesn’t recover from a battle with COVID-19 soon, the stud prospect could fall behind Murphy. At 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, Murphy weighs roughly the same amount as Thomas, but he sports three extra inches. Through his first two games, the true freshman already has two sacks and five tackles for loss. According to 247Sports, Murphy was the No. 1 ranked defensive end in the 2020 recruiting class and the No. 7 player in the country.