SANTA CLARA, Calif — Ever since he became Clemson’s starting quarterback in Week 5 of the 2018 season. Everyone waited for Trevor Lawrence to have a freshman moment.
It was supposed to happen against a ranked NC State team in Week 8. It never happened as the true freshman led the Tigers to a rout of the Wolfpack.
It was supposed to happen at a ranked Boston College team in Week 11. It never happened as Clemson won by 20 points at Chestnut Hill.
It was supposed to happen in the College Football Playoff Semifinals against Notre Dame. It never happened as Lawrence diced up the Irish on his way to being named Cotton Bowl MVP.
So, all last week leading up to Monday’s national championship game, just about everyone expected Lawrence to have his freshman moment when the Tigers faced top-ranked Alabama in the CFP National Championship. After all, this is Alabama. This is the King of the SEC. There is no way the Tide is going to let a blonde hair quarterback with a nickname of “Sunshine” beat them.
This is the game for sure Lawrence will have his freshman moment.
Well, it never happened.
Lawrence was named the MVP of Monday’s championship game as he completed 20-of-32 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Tigers to a 44-16 victory, winning the program its second national championship in three years.
“That doesn’t mean as much as being able to be a part of this team,” Lawrence said afterward. “Really it’s true, even if we didn’t go all this way and win a National Championship, this has been a team that I’ll never forget for one, and it’s just been amazing, the focus and how driven this team is has been unbelievable.
“Just these seniors, just taking me in, and they kind of dragged me along until I got my feet under me, and they just – they’re awesome people as well as players.”
In coming the first true freshman to win a national championship since 1985, Lawrence completed 8-of-10 passes for 240 yards. All three of his touchdown passes came on third down, as did his 62-yard pass to Tee Higgins to set up the Tigers’ first offensive touchdown.
“I mean, the games like this you’ve got to make big plays, and the guys that we have, they definitely did that. You just give them a chance, and they’ll come down with it. Like I said about the O-line, same thing about the receivers and running backs and everyone else. Just amazing players and really just so proud of – it took a lot to get here, but really just proud of those guys.”
Because of Lawrence, Clemson finished the night with 482 yards and averaged 7.7 yards per play.
“It was just surreal,” he said. “So yeah, it was even better. It’s always great just to get another game with this group of guys. Like I said, just been an amazing year. But yeah, it was amazing.
“Obviously, our fans were awesome, traveled well. So, thank you all for that. And then yeah, just an unbelievable experience.”