Notre Dame football: What is Plan B if Riley Leonard isn’t in the cards?

(Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images) /
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Notre Dame Football
Nov 24, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (5) warms up before a game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

Notre Dame Football could decide if you can’t beat him, join him

The first time Notre Dame was introduced to senior quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was in 2020. The California native completed 29 passes for 439 yards and two touchdowns in one of the year’s games. His second performance against the Irish wasn’t as good: 27 completions, 191 yards, and a touchdown.

What Notre Dame does know is that the Saint John Bosco High School product is a hefty — 250 pounds — strong-armed quarterback who would be great for their system. Uiagalelei is a plus in the running game, with the ability to throw the football deep. His head coach, Johnathan Smith, is headed to East Lansing, Michigan, and the Michigan State Spartans.

Like Riley Leonard, Uiagalelei could follow his coach to East Lansing. Noah Kim, Katin Houser, and Sam Leavitt are all leaving, so the Spartans desperately need a quarterback. The possibility exists that Uiagalelei could be in Michigan State green to end his career. That said, the Irish could use a quarterback of Uiagalelei’s caliber.

He proved this season the problem at Clemson did not move to Corvallis; he was fired in the offseason. Whatever people’s opinion of Uiagalelei is, he’d fit in South Bend.