Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is a Clemson alum and sits on the school’s board of trustees, backed starting Cade Klubnik at quarterback over DJ Uiagalelei.
With Clemson out of the College Football Playoff picture, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations weighed in Tuesday on the football team’s quarterback situation.
“Is DJ good? Yes he’s good. Is he consistent? No, he’s not consistent. I think we need to put Cade in. I think we need to play him more,” Haley said.
Haley was asked about the quarterback situation at a Turning Point U.S.A. event at Clemson University before an audience question and answer session.
“I hear you’re up for a new challenge, and you’ve given Coach (Dabo) Swinney some great advice in the past. So do you think Cade Klubnik should be Clemson’s starting quarterback?” Taylor Rogers, the president of the Clemson chapter of Turning Point U.S.A., said to the potential 2024 presidential candidate with a laugh.
Haley has texted with Swinney before games for years and gives advice, she said.
Swinney would only reply with a “Go Tigers,” she said.
After Haley left her U.N. ambassador role, Swinney sent Haley a message saying he may have a coaching position available.
“I was like, be careful what you ask for,” Haley said.
Klubnik, a true freshman and former five-star recruit, played infrequently early in the season when Clemson was well ahead in games. He came into the game against Syracuse after Uiagalelei had three turnovers. Klubnik mostly handed the ball off but made a few plays to help Clemson overcome an 11-point fourth quarter deficit.
Klubnik came in for Uiagalelei late when Clemson trailed Notre Dame, too, but reverted to a pure backup role against Louisville and Miami. Klubnik didn’t play against the University of South Carolina despite Uiagalelei’s struggles in that loss.
“I think just putting him (Klubnik) in for a play here or there is not giving him the opportunity,” Haley said.
Clemson plays in the ACC Championship against the University of North Carolina on Saturday, where Uiagalelei is slated to start, even though the team may roll out specific packages for Klubnik.
“Why not go ahead and just put him in there and let’s see what he can do?” Haley said.
Sports reporter Chapel Fowler contributed reporting.