SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields will go head to head Saturday in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl, having taken similar paths to get to this point.
Lawrence grew up in Cartersville, Georgia, which is located near Fields’ hometown of Kennesaw, Georgia. Lawrence was the No. 1 quarterback in the 2018 recruiting class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, with Fields right behind him at No. 2.
Both players have the same private quarterbacks coach, Ron Veal, and both participated in the 2017 Elite 11 quarterback competition.
Each signal-caller had an outstanding sophomore campaign this year, and now they will meet at 8 p.m. Saturday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, with a spot in the national championship game on the line.
“I know him pretty well,” Lawrence said of Fields on Tuesday during his Fiesta Bowl press conference at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn. “We lived in high school and stuff about 20 minutes from each other probably. So, just really close, and saw him at a lot of camps and all those things. We’re not super close friends, but definitely friends and we talk every now and then. I sent him a text, and just seeing his journey has been really cool coming from right near me going all the way to Ohio State, and then now us meeting up in this game is pretty cool.”
Both Lawrence and Fields hit the ground running in their first seasons as a starter.
Lawrence earned freshman All-America honors in 2018, when he passed for 3,280 yards and 30 touchdowns with just four interceptions while becoming the first freshman starting quarterback to lead his team to a national title since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1985.
Fields was a Heisman Trophy finalist this season after sitting behind Jake Fromm at Georgia as a freshman in 2018 and then transferring to Ohio State in the offseason. In 13 games, Fields has thrown for 2,953 yards and 40 touchdowns with just one interception, while also rushing for 471 yards and 10 scores.
It hasn’t always been the case where freshmen quarterbacks could step right in and shine, but Lawrence explained why he thinks he and Fields were able to excel instantly.
“To me, it doesn’t matter how old you are,” Lawrence said. “If you work hard and prepare and do things the right way and you have the talent, it will take care of itself. You see that’s been the case with him, and it doesn’t really matter how old you are – if you can play, you can play, and that’s how he’s been.”
Even though they are different quarterbacks on different teams, Lawrence believes he and Fields will always be compared to one another because of where they are from.
“I think it’s just how close we are,” he said. “It’s just crazy that we had to come all the way out to Arizona to finally play each other. I’m sure we’d be better friends. We never had much time with football and everything to really get close. But we’re friends, and obviously I want the best for him and definitely have enjoyed watching his growth and what he’s done this year. But I think it’s just being from Georgia and being right there, everyone just thinks of us in the same sentence.”
While Lawrence and Fields each have their own playing style, Lawrence does see some similarities between his game and that of Fields.
“I think we’re different in some ways, but also I can see a little bit,” he said. “I think he has good pocket presence and his ability to extend plays. He’s more of a runner than I am, but his ability to extend plays and be a threat there helps him a lot.”
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