A shootout between Wake Forest and Clemson was one of the most exciting games this season and featured the two co-offensive NFL prospects of the week in DJ Uiagalelei and Sam Hartman. Defensively, few draft eligible players impacted a game quite like Ohio State’s Tommy Eichenberg.
The quarterback duel between Sam Hartman and DJ Uiagalelei featured more fireworks than either team’s defensive coordinators would have wanted. The two signal callers combined for over 700 passing yards and 11 touchdowns through the air. While Clemson outlasted Wake Forest, it is hard not to be impressed with both players.
DJ Uiagalelei had been underperforming after high expectations following his succession of Trevor Lawrence. In 2021, Uiagalelei only threw nine touchdowns (against 10 interceptions) and the whole Clemson offense looked as bad as it has in a decade. Uiagalelei has been playing better this year, but the Wake Forest game felt like a coming out party after three solid games against much lesser teams. Uiagalelei showed off his big arm, made great decisions and hit tight windows all over the field. Despite immense pressure put on him by the Demon Deacons constant scoring, Uiagalelei stayed cool and delivered whenever called upon.
DJ Uiagalelei has all the talent to be an NFL quarterback. His arm strength, size and ability to make big plays outside the pocket have the whole football world waiting for things to click for him and hopefully the Wake Forest game is a tone setter for the rest of his season.
On the opposing sideline was Wake Forest’s gunslinger, Sam Hartman. Hartman has been on a tear since returning after an absence from the team. The fifth year quarterback has thrown 13 touchdowns through three games and picked apart a Clemson defense that did not allow more than 20 points in the previous three games.
Hartman does not have the huge arm of Uiagalelei, but he is incredibly accurate and works well within Wake Forest’s system. He is decisive, cool under pressure and continually punished Clemson’s defense. This is a crowded quarterback class, but Hartman is playing at a level that is hard to ignore.
Defensively, Tommy Eichenberg put on a show against Wisconsin’s hard-running offense. Playing linebacker against the Badger running game means bringing your lunch pail on every snap, something Eichenberg happily did against Braelon Allen and company. Eichenberg led a defensive effort that kept Wisconsin’s running game under wraps for long enough that the Buckeye offense was able to get out ahead and put the game out of reach for Wisconsin. Allen broke a big run late in the game, as he is wont to do, but the reality is that Allen and the Badgers had trouble establishing the run when it mattered. Eichenberg was a big reason why.
Eichenberg is in the spotlight of the Buckeye defense this year as one of its most seasoned members. A high level of play like we saw on Saturday will get Eichenberg talked about as a top linebacker in this upcoming draft.