It’s not every day a freshman quarterback leads his team to a national championship. In fact, the last time it happened was in 1985.
But it is not every day a team has a quarterback like Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. The Cartersville, Georgia native became the first freshman quarterback since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway to lead his team to national championship.
At times last year, Lawrence made it look easy. He went 11-0 as a starter. He led the ACC in touchdown passes with 30. He led the conference in passing efficiency and interception avoidance.
On the biggest of stages, he made it look even easier. He earned MVP honors against Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, tossing for 327 and three touchdowns with no interceptions in a 30-3 victory over Notre Dame.
Lawrence had an even better performance in the national championship game against Alabama, throwing for 347 yards and three more scores and again no interceptions on his way to another MVP performance as the Tigers rolled to a 44-16 victory.
“For him to be in the situations he has been in at a young age, and to maintain that poise is very difficult to do,” Clemson’s quarterback coach Brandon Streeter said. “That’s just a God-given talent that is very, very special. Deshaun (Watson) had the same thing as far as the poise. That is something that is important to have as quarterback.”
And like Watson during his time at Clemson, Lawrence has become the face of the Clemson program. Expectations for him and the Tigers in 2019 are extremely high. Maybe higher for him and the program than at any time during Clemson’s current run in which it has won two of the last three national championships.
However, just like he was in Watson, Streeter is confident Lawrence will know how to handle the moment. He will know how to lead his team. He’s already shown he can do both when he was a freshman.
“We are very fortunate. We talk about it all the time. As a quarterback you’re the face of the program, and that’s not just being on the field, that’s being off the field,” Streeter said. “Obviously, Deshaun did an excellent job of that, of doing what he is supposed to do off the field. There were no issues there with him being a team guy.
“I think Trevor noticed that whenever Deshaun was here. It helps in recruiting. It helps in the fact you get to go sell that to the recruits out there. Trevor has done the same thing. He’s done a great job of not just being a team guy on the field but off the field as well. Everybody on his team respects him a ton and trusts him.”