July 19, 2024

Jordan Travis helps FSU land transfer QB DJ Uiagalelei


After finishing up an All-American career, Jordan Travis left a parting gift to Florida State.

DJ Uiagalelei committed to FSU on Monday and told ESPN a conversation with Travis played a big role in his decision.

Uiagalelei said he had long been an admirer of both coach Mike Norvell and Florida State’s aggressive offensive schemes. But he learned more about the program from Travis.

“He told me that Coach Norvell and [quarterbacks coach Tony] Tokarz are great coaches and coach you hard and will develop you,” Uiagalelei said in a phone interview Monday. “He also said that outside football, they really cared about him as a person.”

Uiagalelei said Travis relayed a story about a three-game ACC losing streak in 2022 and how the coaches reacted. Travis told Uiagalelei: “They asked, ‘How are you doing as a person?’ They said, ‘I’m here for you, not just as a coach, but also as a friend.’ That’s something that I value and had at Oregon State with Coach [Jonathan] Smith and Coach [Brian] Lindgren. … Obviously they are about the right stuff.”

Uiagalelei’s commitment marks a significant addition for Florida State, which was down to one scholarship quarterback, Brock Glenn, for Saturday’s Orange Bowl loss to Georgia.

Uiagalelei told ESPN that FSU had been his priority and goal all along since entering the portal. He had visited there more than two weeks ago and waited patiently for things to come together. Uiagalelei had also been exploring the NFL, but he said he took no other college visits.

“That’s where I wanted to go the whole time,” Uiagalelei said. “I didn’t talk to many other programs. For the most part, I was locked in at Florida State. I appreciated them throughout the whole process. I wanted to be a Seminole. I wanted to be part of the program. I’m just blessed that Coach Norvell wanted to take me. I can’t wait to get there and get to work.”

Uiagalelei visited Florida State in mid-December and has stayed in touch with the school. Former Washington State quarterback Cam Ward, who declared for the NFL draft earlier Monday, had also taken a visit. Uiagalelei will enter FSU as the prohibitive favorite to start.

He has started 40 career games with a 30-10 record, throwing for 8,319 yards and 57 touchdowns. His decision will mark a return to the ACC, where he began his career at Clemson as a heralded recruit from Southern California. He played for the Tigers for three seasons before transferring to Oregon State last year. FSU hosts Clemson in 2024, which will surely be a highly publicized reunion.

“Florida State’s offense plays to my strengths,” Uiagalelei said. “They push the ball down the field. They’re going to take deep shots. They have playmakers all around there. Coach Norvell does an unbelievable job scheming for opponents. He’s a guy that’s a smart football mind.”

It will mark the third college stop for Uiagalelei, who was the No. 43 overall recruit in ESPN’s rankings, including the No. 1 pocket passing quarterback in the Class of 2020. While it hasn’t been a linear path, Uiagalelei stressed on Monday that he’s grateful for his journey.

“For me, I didn’t think my college career was going to go this way,” he said, “going to my third school. But it couldn’t have gone better for me as a person, to develop through adversity, through the good times and the low times. There’s so many lessons on the way.

“I’ve developed a lot as a person and a player. For me, I felt grateful for every opportunity God has given me and blessed me with. There’s so many blessings, so many great people and players. So many great lessons that football has taught me.”

Uiagalelei flashed improvement during his most recent stop at Oregon State, and he showed a jump in his development under Smith and Lindgren in 2023. He completed 57.1% of his passes while averaging a career-high 8.4 yards per attempt. He also threw for a career-high 2,638 yards while leading Oregon State to an 8-4 regular-season record, a run that included wins over Utah, UCLA and Colorado.

“I want to be another guy, be a teammate,” he said. “Put my hard hat on and go to work and join the brotherhood and be one of the guys. I want to go there and compete and work my tail off. I want to put my best foot forward, win an ACC championship, reach the College Football Playoff and ultimately win a national championship.”

The NFL draft remains Uiagalelei’s next goal, and he’s excited to see how working with Norvell can help him get there. He said FSU’s offensive aggressiveness syncs well with his skill set.

FSU got elite quarterback play from Travis this season, but his injury on Nov. 18 ended his college career. It also put Florida State’s season in the crosshairs, as Travis’ absence played a big role in the program’s unprecedented College Football Playoff snub. The Seminoles became the first power conference team to go undefeated and win its league title and not reach the CFP.

Since the snub, two FSU backup quarterbacks — Tate Rodemaker and A.J. Duffy — have entered the transfer portal. Travis is out of eligibility and off to the NFL, which left Glenn as the team’s lone remaining scholarship quarterback.

Uiagalelei said he has stayed upbeat and positive through all the twists of his journey.

“I want to keep growing and learning and developing each and every day,” he said. “I hope I can raise my draft stock and put myself in the best position for the future. … My journey is still going. I’m still writing my own journey.”

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