Uiagalelei will be the only active collegiate player featured in the Fansville commercials, which chronicle the lives of rival fans in a fictional college-football-obsessed town. Financial terms were not disclosed.
This is the second deal Uiagalelei has secured with a big company since name, image and likeness legislation took effect on July 1. Last month, Uiagalelei signed a deal with Bojangles, a fast-food fried chicken restaurant based in Charlotte, N.C., to make appearances on the company's behalf and share content on his social media account.
"For me, NIL has been a great opportunity to be able to work with brands, to be able to do stuff like this," Uiagalelei said in an interview with ESPN.com. "If I was playing college football five years ago, I wouldn't be able to do this. It's a great opportunity for people now to be able to build off their brand, make money and work on different partnerships like Dr Pepper. I'm super excited about it."
Uiagalelei said Dr Pepper approached him about the idea to work together. He said he likes drinking the soda, and he also has enjoyed watching the Fansville campaign, now headed into its fourth season. Late last month, Uiagalelei taped multiple commercials, and the first one is scheduled to premiere on Aug. 23.
"I wanted to do brands that are authentic to me," Uiagalelei said. "I don't want to be one of these people that do all these different brands. I can have a long-standing partnership with Dr Pepper. They go hand-in-hand with college football."
Uiagalelei said the commercials were filmed in a hotel in Clemson, South Carolina. With his whole family there to watch, Uiagalelei was given a few lines to say and stood in front of a green screen to deliver them. It was the first time he had taped a commercial -- or done any acting, for that matter -- so perhaps the biggest surprise was having makeup put on for the camera.
"I was like a real actor," Uiagalelei said with a laugh. "It wasn't like I was just standing there. It's going to be cool when it comes out. I'm super excited to have people see my personality and see a different side of me. I think I did a pretty good job, so I hope the fans think so also."
Uiagalelei enters his first season as Clemson's starting quarterback, replacing Heisman Trophy finalist Trevor Lawrence, and the expectations are high. As a true freshman last year, Uiagalelei started two games when Lawrence was out with COVID-19 -- including an epic 47-40 double-overtime loss to Notre Dame in which he threw for 439 yards and two touchdowns.
Clemson opens the season against Georgia in Charlotte in a game that will have early College Football Playoff implications. Uiagalelei has taken the heightened expectations and NIL opportunities in stride, saying he does not feel pressure to succeed. And now that practice has begun, Uiagalelei said his entire focus is on football.
"I'm a student-athlete first, so it goes school, then football, then on my off time I can do my brand/NIL stuff," Uiagalelei said. "I don't put it as a main priority. That's why I hired a team so they could handle all that stuff, because I want to focus on school and football and winning a national championship."