ESPN recently went through its way-too-early top 25 rankings for the 2024 season and identified the most important newcomer at each school.

For Florida State (No. 15 in ESPN’s early poll), the answer is an obvious one. ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren named Oregon State transfer quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. Here’s what he wrote on the veteran passer:

Uiagalelei isn’t the highest-rated transfer the Seminoles are bringing in, but he fills the biggest need. FSU added Alabama corner Earl Little Jr., linebacker Shawn Murphy, receiver Malik Benson and running back Roydell Williams, as well as Georgia linebacker Marvin Jones Jr. among a handful of other impact transfers. But the staff saw just how important the quarterback position is this past season. Jordan Travis is out of eligibility and Tate Rodemaker, transferred which left the Seminoles without much QB experience. If Uiagalelei can take over for Travis and continue his consistent play, he can help keep Florida State in the College Football Playoff conversation. — VanHaaren

When Uiagalelei left Clemson after the 2022 season, there were some serious questions about his ability to lead a winning team. Nevermind his Clemson teams won 10 and 11 games during his two years as a starter, Uiagalelei was critiqued heavily.

He threw more interceptions than touchdowns in 2021 with the Tigers and then fans called for his backup to replace him in 2023. (He threw 22 touchdowns and only seven interceptions that year.)

At Oregon State, Uiagalelei proved quite a few of his detractors wrong. He averaged a career-best 8.4 yards per pass attempt and a touchdown every 14 touches. In Oregon State’s balanced attack, and free from the pressure of being “the guy after Trevor Lawrence” at Clemson, Uiagalelei led the Beavs into the AP Top 10 ahead of a mid-November showdown with Washington.

Before Jonathan Smith decided to bolt Corvallis, Oregon State had lost three games by a combined eight points. The Beavs took then-No. 5 Washington to the wire.

Florida State is hoping Uiagalelei can author another winning season in his return to the ACC. The Seminoles won the league in 2023 and have reloaded through the portal to make another run at the College Football Playoff in 2024.

FSU begins its season in Dublin, Ireland against Georgia Tech on Aug. 24. Uiagalelei makes his home debut on Monday, Sept. 2. He’ll face Clemson at home on Oct. 5.