When Trevor Lawrence walked on to the practice field Friday behind the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson, it was a little bit different than last year.
Last year, Lawrence was a true freshman that was a little green behind the ears. He was the No. 2 guy behind senior Kelly Bryant, who had just led the Tigers to another ACC Championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff.
However, Lawrence beat out Bryant for the starting job by Week 5 of the 2018 regular season and then subsequently became the first freshman quarterback since 1985 to lead his team to a national championship.
On Friday, as the defending national champions took to the practice fields for the first time for fall camp, Lawrence is no longer the wide-eye freshman who stood behind Bryant. Now, he is the unquestionable leader of a Clemson offense that is expected to be even better than it was a year ago.
“I am a lot more mature. I have grown up a lot in the year and a half that I have been here,” Clemson’s quarterback said. “I got to experience a lot of cool things. I am still the same guy, but I have just grown up a lot and gained a little weight, that is one thing.
“I have just matured, and I got to know these guys a whole lot better, so it has been good.”
The scary thing for Clemson’s future opponents is Lawrence feels more confident in himself than he did last year. Remember, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound quarterback threw for a combined 674 yards, 6 touchdowns with no interceptions in beating Notre Dame and Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
“It is just confidence from having another year under my belt and also just getting to know all of these guys,” he said. “We have grown really close this off-season and this summer. Getting out here in camp is about growing together and I think we have done a good job of that.”
Even on the first day, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said they could see a difference in their quarterback.
“I thought Trevor did a really good job when given an opportunity to lead,” Scott said. “He was more vocal today than obviously he would have been than day one last year. This is a completely different scenario.”
As for the offense as a whole, Lawrence says the Tigers can be even better than last year’s unit which averaged 44.3 points and 527.2 yards per game.
“The sky is the limit for our group. You saw last year how we started flourishing and how we started clicking. I think that is one thing,” Lawrence said. “We are picking up where we kind of left off from last year. Having a lot of those guys back is really awesome, having that continuity. Just having the whole unit, the whole offense.
“We did not lose that many guys. We lost a few really good players, but we also had a ton that have been here and have been preparing and waiting for their time.”
Clemson will continue Day 2 of camp on Saturday.