By enrolling in school last January, Trevor Lawrence got a jump on his development as a college quarterback, which allowed him the opportunity to guide the Clemson Tigers to their second national championship in three years.
“Yeah, I think that’s big, just having an extra semester to get to know everyone and to get to work with the guys in the off-season. That’s the biggest thing I’m grateful for is just to have the off-season to work with everyone and feel like I was really there from the end of last season until now has been big,” he said.
Though he did not start the year as the starting quarterback, Lawrence played a lot earlier on. Through the first four weeks of the season he shared duties with senior Kelly Bryant, helping the Tigers to a 4-0 record.
In Clemson’s Week 4 win at Georgia Tech, the true freshman came in for a struggling Bryant and threw four touchdown passes while completing 13 of 18 passes for 176 yards. The following Monday, head coach Dabo Swinney had seen enough and named him the starter for the Syracuse game and the rest, as we know, is history.
“Yeah, obviously I was excited for the opportunity and feel like I had worked hard for it, but I mean, it wasn’t anything – it wasn’t going to change anything,” Lawrence said recently. “It didn’t change much. Just getting the opportunity was awesome, and obviously it was kind of a different situation kind of with Kelly there and that situation was tough, but I was just excited to get the opportunity.”
Lawrence took the opportunity and ran with it. While Bryant left the program and eventually transferred to Missouri, Lawrence guided the Tigers to an 11-0 record as a starter.
Though his first start ended with an injury that took him out of the game, he bounced back by leading Clemson to 10 straight wins of 20-plus points, including a 44-16 win over Alabama in the national championship game.
In the title game, Lawrence completed 20 of 32 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns on his way to being named Offensive MVP.
“Mentally I became a lot sharper since (the Syracuse game) and just grown a lot as far as decision making and a lot of little detail stuff, too,” the Cartersville, Ga., native said. “So, I think all that stuff, just leadership, everything, all the way around I’ve grown a lot since then.”
Lawrence finished his first season as a starter as the ACC leader in touchdown passes (30), yards per attempt (8.3), fewest interceptions thrown (4) and efficiency rating (157.56). His 3,280 yards ranked second in the league, as did his 65.2 percent completion percentage.
He was also second in the league in completions (259) and attempts (397).
“Yeah, I mean, throughout the year, obviously the playbook gets bigger and bigger, and you’re just adding stuff and changing stuff, just all that kind of stuff happens anyways, but also as I’ve kind of grasped everything better,” Lawrence said.
Thanks to the way he ended the year with his performances against Notre Dame and Alabama in the College Football Playoff, Lawrence is now known more for his poise, demeanor and talent, then he is for his long blonde hair. Though he is still called “Stick” by his strength coaches at Clemson and “Sunshine” by everyone else, Lawrence is now Clemson’s unquestionable leader on offense.
He is Clemson’s quarterback.
“I feel like it doesn’t really matter, but no matter how old you are, you’re going to gain respect based on who you are,” Lawrence said. “I feel like that’s a big thing. Coming in as a highly recruited guy and all that stuff, you might have this kind of look that people might assume about you, they think you’re cocky or whatever, so I think just coming in and getting to know the guys and showing them who you are and earning their respect, and your play will speak for itself.
“I think that’s something these guys have done a good job of just taking me in and really letting me lead them.”
Lawrence and his Clemson teammates will open spring practice on Wednesday on the practice fields behind the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson.
Move over Alabama, Clemson is the new King of College Football. In our new magazine “Little Ole Clemson”: The Best “Little” Dynasty Ever, we examine not just the 2018 team’s run to being “the best ever” but examine the last four seasons and how Dabo Swinney turned Clemson into the new dynasty of college football. We also take a look at the role former athletic director Terry Don Phillips played. We go behind the scenes at the Tigers’ run to a second national championship in three seasons and the previous three national championship runs. It also features stories on the Power Rangers, the 2018 senior class, high quality photos and much, much more.
We are pleased to announce that our latest magazine is ready for order. Get your order in today to make sure you get a copy of this collector’s edition.