Life of a Brave: The Humility, Gratitude and Leadership Of Five-Star Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei
by Che Womack, Contributing Writer
The persona of a five-star high school quarterback, especially in the eyes of Hollywood, comes attached with arrogance and an unlikeliness to be deferential of teammates and coaches. This is not D.J. Uiagalelei. A true quarterback has to be someone who has the physical talent and mental fortitude to lead ten other individuals on the field to success. A quarterback is a leader, a headman, a commander. This is D.J. Uiagalelei.
Growing up, D.J.’s world revolved around athletics, family and church. Coming from a religious family, D.J.’s faith was instilled at a young age. His church, Abundant Living Family Church, in Rancho Cucamonga, California, hosts people from all walks of life, as it opens its doors to people of all faiths. Diving deep into his faith, D.J. gave a visual on how his faith drove him to the promised land of virtue and prosperity.
“God has blessed me with a lot, besides being blessed by waking up day-to-day, he has blessed me with an amazing life, an amazing family, and year-by-year, an amazing team,” D.J. said. “He has blessed me by being able to play the game of football, by that blessing: He gives me the opportunity to showcase the talent he has given me.”
D.J.’s faith and family have driven him to the best person that he can be. Involving himself with Pop-Warner games, youth camps and other virtues that involves him helping others, D.J. chooses to be a part of something greater than himself.
Getting a front-row look at a quarterback’s development are the offensive linemen, who experience and see the true character of the signal-caller. From the classroom to the locker-room, on the field and all the way down to the huddle; the offensive linemen are able to recognize and identify the true characteristics of the quarterback.
The relationship between a quarterback and his offensive line is the most important companionship on the football field. D.J. and his linemen share a relationship that involves the utmost respect for a common goal between both positions. D.J. consistently and publicly shows his gratitude towards the gentlemen who protect him. To show gratification to individuals who do not get much praise, is the work of a leader.
“I feel like my offensive line is a huge reason why I am successful,” D.J. said. “Without them, I would not be in the position I am in today. I owe my success to them they block their butt off for me and I truly appreciate that.”
Being an offensive lineman at Bosco is a serious challenge, as they are tasked with protecting one of the nation’s best quarterbacks. The coaching staff sets a standard for this challenge every week for the offensive line.
“We have the best QB in the country. There’s no doubt about it,” offensive line coach Jim Adams said. “Every statistic and analytic says it. If we cannot protect this guy, we won’t be successful. Period. We won’t achieve our goals; we won’t be champions. … If you want to win, you’ll protect the big fella. Let D.J. do what D.J. does best.”
The need to protect and serve does not only come from the coaches but from the offensive line itself. The protection they strive to provide is not simply for duty, but for the care and respect they have for their quarterback.
“Being D.J.’s blindside tackle is everything I could ever hope for. I take the highest level of caution and care when protecting D.J. in the backfield and I know my fellow lineman can say the same,” senior tackle Drake Metcalf said. “D.J. is the same guy he is on and off the field. He’s humble and always hungry for the next challenge or task at hand. Being linemen, it is our duty to take care of business upfront and let the cannon launch in the backfield. If we do our jobs, we can guarantee D.J. will make his magic happen.”
It is no surprise that those who know D.J. love him. However, it is not because of his fame but rather character. He doesn’t need to be the most popular guy. He doesn’t need to be someone who is always being talked about, or always in the limelight. He’s just an athlete; just another guy who plays football; just another teammate.
“He’s a humble, stand-up guy. He is a natural leader and a supportive friend,” senior guard Logan Bednar said. “Despite his fame, he is the same D.J. as he was when I met him at 14 years old, and he will be the same D.J. when he’s 30.”
Being humble and an individual of humility can be a great way of getting where you want to go. However, in the game of football, this cannot replace the attitude and hunger that has to come in order to win games.
D.J. possesses this competitiveness. Competing for a spot his sophomore year, D.J. was named the starting quarterback during the week of the biggest high school football rivalry game in the country. On October 13th, 2017, D.J. made his first start against the then-ranked No. 1 team in the country. Despite the loss, D.J. tossed two touchdown passes and unleashed a multitude of amazing plays that exhibited his talent and love for his team.
Clemson University made a huge and early impression during D.J.’s recruitment process. “The Clemson Effect” is that Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney preaches family. Being a Clemson football player creates a huge task: The process of winning, of course, while respecting the culture that Clemson maintains. Coach Swinney’s culture at Clemson made lasting impact in D.J.’s decision.
“Football and sports is a big thing,” D.J. stated in a video in which he announced his commitment to Clemson. “But I also want to become a better person, get more connected with God. Just get closer with him. Whatever college could also do that, that’s where I want to be.”
Seconds after that line, D.J. announced his commitment to Clemson. A stand-up guy headed to a stand-up place.