DALLAS — Deshaun Watson is one of those quarterbacks that a program sees come around once in a generation.
During his three years at Clemson, Watson led the Tigers to two national championship game appearances and winning it all in 2016. Along the way, he earned All-American status, was a two-time Heisman Trophy Finalist and won the Davey O’Brien and Manning Awards as the nation’s best quarterback multiple times.
He set many Clemson and ACC records and more importantly he made the big plays when his team needed him to the most.
“Deshaun just gives off this energy that is contagious to everyone else,” Clemson right tackle Tremayne Anchrum said. “He says ‘let’s go! Let’s play. I’m going downhill. Who is coming with me?’ It is more of a let’s follow him leadership.”
When Watson left Clemson for the NFL following the 2016 season, no one really expected Clemson to find another one like him so fast. That is not normally how things work.
However, in the summer of 2017, Trevor Lawrence, the nation’s No. 1 ranked player coming out of high school, committed to Clemson and signed with the Tigers last December. A year later, the freshman from Cartersville, Ga., has led the second-ranked Tigers back to the College Football Playoff where they will play No. 3 Notre Dame Saturday in the semifinals at the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas.
“He is a sweetheart,” Anchrum said about Lawrence. “He is field general with a kid’s heart. He is filled with a lot of joy. He smiles a lot. Sometimes, he fixes my shoulder pads when I’m getting off the ground after I dug someone into the ground. That is really the kind of guy that he is. That is the kind of person he is.
“It is great to have him at quarterback.”
Anchrum, who played with Watson in 2016, sees a lot of similarities in the two quarterbacks. Like Watson, Lawrence is a leader by example. He works hard, and he competes on every play. He has that certain quality about him that makes his teammates want to follow his lead.
The only difference is Lawrence is a little more vocal than Watson.
Sometimes, he has talk himself through it,” Anchrum said. “Then he starts talking to us and then we start to get on the same page. It is not the energy we feed off it’s the kind of action and tactic we feed off.
“Trevor, when he gets going, you know that if I give this guy time, he is going to make a play.”
Lawrence mostly makes plays with his rocket arm, showing the ability to throw the ball anywhere on the field and with extreme accuracy. However, he can also run the football if need be.
“He is like a stallion. He is deceitfully athletic,” Anchrum said.
And he makes plays. Like Watson, when the Tigers need a play from the young quarterback, he goes and makes it and at times he makes it look easy.
“Once you see one of them, then you know this is the norm,” Anchrum said. “That is what you kind of expect from Trevor. He makes these really amazing throws and makes them routinely.
“When I see Trevor, I think we are a little spoiled here.”