Trevor Lawrence came into Clemson with the highest of credentials a quarterback can have. A 5-star talent, he was rated as the No. 1 overall player in the Class of 2018.
However, none of that warrants Lawrence the right to be battling incumbent Kelly Bryant for playing time. The reason the true freshman is second on the depth chart and will be playing early and often this season for the Tigers has a lot to do with his overall knowledge of the offense, to go along with his natural arm strength and talent.
There isn’t much about Clemson’s offense that Lawrence does not already know. It’s virtually the same offense he ran the last four years at Cartersville High School in Cartersville, Ga., where he went 52-2 as a starter.
“He did everything in high school from the ninth grade on. There is not much that we do that he has not done,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
That includes understanding the Tigers’ run-pass-option plays or otherwise known in football terminology as RPOs. Swinney said Lawrence runs those plays and understands them as well as any quarterback on the roster.
“It is very natural for him,” the Clemson coach said. “The ball handling, the first-level, second-level and third-level reads from a run-pass-game … that has been pretty easy for him.”
The only thing Lawrence is still really learning, other than what he can and can’t do from a throwing standpoint against the speed of Clemson’s defense, is the protections.
“I think the biggest difference is the protections,” Swinney said. “There is a lot more we ask of these guys protection wise. We see a lot more, especially going against our defense and trying to survive. You better understand the protections. We give those quarterbacks a lot of flexibility.”
And so far Lawrence has picked things up quite nicely.
Clemson will open the season on Sept. 1 against Furman at Death Valley.