D.J. Uiagalelei started only two games for Clemson in 2020, but ahead of his first season as the Tigers’ starting quarterback, he’s lined up a major endorsement deal for the 2021 college football season.
According to a report from Sports Illustrated, Uiagalelei has signed an NIL deal with Dr. Pepper that will see the strong-armed quarterback featured in several of the beverage’s Fansville campaign.
“Every time I turn on the TV every Saturday, I always see a commercial with Dr Pepper,” Uiagalelei told Sports Illustrated. “When they reached out to me, it was a no-brainer.”
Since the NCAA instituted name, image and likeness laws, college athletes have begun signing deals to receive money for appearing in ads. To this point, however, most of the deals struck have focused more on local brands, though some big-name talents have begun lining up major deals.
As the heir to Trevor Lawrence’s position under center of an annual national championship contender, Uiagalelei is a natural fit for a big partnership. The No. 2 national prospect in the 2020 recruiting class, according to 247Sports, Uiagalelei was used mostly in mop-up situations late in games early in the 2020 season before Lawrence tested positive for the coronavirus and was forced to miss two starts. Uiagalelei led Clemson to a win against Boston College on Oct. 31 before the Tigers lost a shoot-out against Notre Dame the following week.
Uiagalelei threw for 781 yards on 59-of-85 passing with four touchdowns and no interceptions in those two starts. During the 2020 season, he totaled 914 passing yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions on 78-of-117. He rushed only 28 times for 60 yards and scored four touchdowns. The 6-4, 247-pound sophomore is considered a pro-style quarterback, and is already receiving hype as one of the top talents in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
Sports Illustrated reported that it is the third deal for Uiagalelei, joining chicken fast-food chain Bojangles and NFT platform Candy Digital.
Keurig Dr. Pepper CMO Andrew Springate told Forbes that the company is excited to be paired with a Heisman Trophy contender, who is the star of one of the sport’s most dominant college football teams with a passionate fanbase that is “the iconic embodiment of fandom and everything Dr Pepper ‘Fansville’ represents.”
“DJ is an outstanding athlete and one of the most formidable college football players in the NCAA,” Springate told Forbes. “Dr Pepper is proud of its relationship with college football, and excited to align with an athlete that embodies the spirit of the game like DJ.”