There was a moment when Trevor Lawrence seriously thought about going to Georgia. However, there was just something about Clemson that kept drawing him to it.
“I did not really know why,” Lawrence said.
There was someone that kept drawing the quarterback back to Tiger Town and it was not head coach Dabo Swinney or quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter, though he thinks highly of them both.
“I knew this is where I was always supposed to be,” he said.
So, who was it that ultimately made sure Lawrence came to Clemson to play college football? Who did he lean on to get him here?
The answer might surprise you. However, if you know Trevor Lawrence, you will not be surprised at all.
When Lawrence made his decision to come to Clemson, he still did not fully understand why he was so taken by this small school in the upper west corner in the state of South Carolina. But before Lawrence and the Tigers began their climb to the 2018 National Championship, he started to understand why he was so drawn to Clemson.
Lawrence was initially saved at the age of seven years old and was subsequently baptized as he gave his life to Christ. But, like a lot of people, Lawrence struggled with his faith, especially when he got to Clemson in January of 2018.
“I kind of got off track and got distracted by so many different things,” he said. “I felt like I was almost living two separate lives. I was this person to everyone else and then I was probably not being the best person outside the facility and all of that stuff… You get to college and you want to have fun and you want to experience all of these things and after a few months it was weighing on me. It was not something I wanted to do anymore.”
That’s when Lawrence started changing. He began to seek Christ again and decided he wanted to change his life and start living for Christ in everything he does.
“It was just a decision I made,” the Clemson quarterback said. “The Lord really put it on my heart to change my ways. He then put it on my heart to re-dedicate my life and get baptize and start this journey.”
As he began his new journey in his faith, Lawrence started to lean on some of his teammates. He first approached wide receiver Will Brown.
“They started talking about life and had these conversations. It was not just small talk,” running back Darien Rencher said. “He invited me into it, and he started asking questions.”
From there, Rencher led Lawrence to his spiritual mentor Dan Lian, a teaching pastor at NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C. Lawrence then joined their small group with other Clemson football players and athletes such as Rencher, Brown, safety K’Von Wallace, baseball player Kier Meredith, wide receivers Will and Drew Swinney and fellow quarterback Ben Batson.
“Those are guys I trust, and we can be brothers to each other and help each other through stuff,” Lawrence said. “I think it is important to surround yourself with people that are trying to do the same things, as far as how they are living, but also guys that will hold you accountable and you can tell them stuff that will help you.”
With a great support group around him, Lawrence start to grow more in his faith, both on and off the football field. His teammates and coaches began to notice the transformation in just the way he carried himself and how he acted and responded to certain situations.
“We are all eighteen to twenty-three (years old). We are all trying to figure this thing out. Nobody is perfect, but the goal is to be faithful,” Rencher said. “I feel like Trevor came in, just like I came in. You kind of get out here, it’s your first time, you get a little freedom and you think you believe some things. But then it gets tested a little bit. He had some downfalls, like I had some. He had some rock-bottom moments, but he came to the realization that faith needs to be a little more real than it was.
“He had a couple of moments where he really got down and he leaned on me and a couple of other guys to pull him back up and we became friends. Through that relationship, including a couple of my mentors, we all just started getting lunch and hanging out and going over the Word. Time after time and day after day, I could see him growing as a man and what he said he believed. You could see his actions line up with it.”
Swinney, a man who has always been strong in his faith, is excited for Lawrence. He has seen how serious Lawrence is about his own relationship with Christ and he has watched as he has grown in the last year both spiritually and has a man.
“He is strong in his faith,” the Clemson coach said. “I have seen him grow in his faith, and it has kept him grounded.”
Lawrence had no idea his head coach noticed the changes in him, but it did not surprise him that Swinney was paying attention.
“I think it is harder for people to notice (spiritual change) that are not in tune with the spirit and, obviously, Coach Swinney is really in tune with the spirit. He is just such an awesome guy,” Lawrence said. “I love playing for him. That just shows the kind of guy he is that he notices things like that. He really notices everything about his players. If something changes, he notices.
“So that is just really cool. I was not a bad guy or anything necessarily, but I definitely changed, and it is really cool that your head coach is watching what you are doing and cares about you.”
Like so many believers, there is that one verse in the Bible that really speaks to you or is something God wanted you to see. Romans 8:28 is that verse for Lawrence. He stumbled upon it one day while reading the Word.
“I read it and I was like, ‘God works for the good of all those who love Him.’ I read that and when you read it, you’re like, ‘That is pretty cool,’ but then a few days after that people started sending me that verse, texting and telling me that verse,” Lawrence said. “So, I was like, ‘This must be pretty important.’ So that has been one that has stuck with me since then.”
Lawrence feels the verse was brought to him for a reason, but he doesn’t try to figure out why. He just tries to live by it.
“There are a lot of things people don’t do. They say that verse, and they say, ‘God has a plan for me,’ but I think you have to hold up your end, too,” the sophomore said. “No one is perfect. You have to be doing the right things and living the right way and I think that if you are glorifying Him and you are really conscious and tying to live for Him, then He is going to bless you and you are going to be doing what He has for you.
“I think a lot of people think ‘He has a plan for me so whatever I do it is going to work out,’ but you also have to hold up your end, too.”
Since he re-dedicated his life to Jesus, Lawrence is walking taller and more confident than he ever has. Swinney says the confidence is noticeable in everything he does, and his faith played a big role in his performance while leading the Tigers to another national championship.
“He was made to be doing what he is doing,” Rencher said. “God has graced him with a lot of natural leadership because he has been in the spotlight for a long, long time. He is humbled and that is a by-product of his faith. It is just the spirit he carries himself with now. Not that he was ever an arrogant guy, but you can definitely tell when someone’s spirit is a little more lively and a little more joyful.
“Even when he comes out here (to practice), it is not all about ball anymore. He is focused on Trevor Lawrence the man more than the football player and I feel like it has translated to football.”
Rencher says Lawrence never misses a church service and has a natural hunger for his faith.
“Before, I was not really in tune with what God wanted me to do, but I still had a relationship with Him, and something drew me here,” Lawrence said. “I did not know what it was originally. I thought about going to Georgia and I almost did that, but I knew I was supposed to be here.
“I think now that I am here, and I have gone through a year of being here and the friends I have made and the decisions I have made to get to this point. It has been clear God wanted me to here for the community, the people and this was the place where he wanted me to grow into who I am going to be.”
Now we know it was God that drew Lawrence to Clemson.
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