Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei will enter the NCAA transfer portal for the second time, according to 247Sports, ending a successful one-year stay for the Beavers and former Clemson starter in Corvallis, Oregon. Uiagalelei's exit comes less than a week after Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith departed for the Michigan State job, prompting the Beavers to promote defensive coordinator Trent Bray to fill the vacancy.
An entry into the 2024 NFL Draft is still possible for Uiagalelei, per 247Sports.
Uiagalelei was a well-documented project for Smith after the former five-star recruit strung together back-to-back disappointing seasons at Clemson. Though Uiagalelei's production didn't change drastically in his first year at Oregon State compared to his final season at Clemson -- he accounted for 27 total touchdowns in 2023 after scoring 29 in 2022 with the Tigers -- he did appear far more comfortable in Smith's system. He received far more protection, only taking 11 sacks after being sacked more than 20 times in both 2022 and 2021 at Clemson.
The stats were solid. Uiagalelei passed for 2,638 yards and 21 touchdowns with seven interceptions in his lone season at Oregon State, rushing for an additional 219 yards and six touchdowns. The Beavers finished the regular season 8-4, starting 8-2 before dropping their final two regular-season contests against No. 3 Washington and No. 5 Oregon.
Uiagalelei's time at Oregon State saw a return to the West Coast -- the signal-caller grew up in Southern California -- after playing at Clemson from 2020-22. He emerged as the Tigers' starter in 2021 after backing up future top NFL Draft pick Trevor Lawrence in 2020, but showed inconsistent play before he was eventually overtaken by Cade Klubnik as the team's starter at the tail end of the 2022 campaign.
For his career, Uiagalelei has passed for 8,319 yards and 57 touchdowns with 24 interceptions, rushing for an additional 1,132 yards and 21 scores.
What it means for Uiagalelei, Oregon State
While it's no lock that Uiagalelei will return to the collegiate level in 2024, he can certainly expect to have options given the swath of teams that would welcome a Power Five starter with his level of experience. The former five-star recruit out of Southern California powerhouse St. John Bosco instantly becomes one of the more notable quarterbacks to enter the transfer market, joining a list that already includes Arkansas' KJ Jefferson, Duke's Riley Leonard and Coastal Carolina's Grayson McCall.
Uiagalelei following Smith to a rebuilding Michigan State program doesn't feel entirely out of the cards given their existing relationship, though other suitors are likely to come into play for a quarterback that polished his résumé in 2023.
For Oregon State, Uiagalelei's looming transfer portal entry is the latest blow for a program that already lost its respected coach as it prepares to enter life after the Pac-12 -- or at least the Pac-12 as we know it. Even with quarterbacks Ben Gulbranson and Aidan Chiles -- the latter signed with Oregon State last year as a four-star prospect, per 247Sports -- still on the roster, nothing from a personnel standpoint feels guaranteed moving ahead as the Beavers prepare to navigate extremely choppy realignment waters.
The Pac-12 is set to lose 10 total members to other power conferences in 2024, with only the Beavers and Washington State left behind.