Though Trevor Lawrence is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Kirk Herbstreit feels the Clemson quarterback is not appreciated enough.
ESPN’s lead college football analyst thinks many people around the country get so locked into his big arm, mental make up and his long hair, that they don’t see the other things he does for the top-ranked Tigers, who will host No. 7 Miami Saturday at Death Valley.
“I watch him play, and here is something I don’t think people fully appreciate. Here is a guy who everybody is saying is the best quarterback since Andrew Luck or whoever you want to compare him to, and he runs the ball with authority,” Herbstreit said on the Packer & Durham Show Wednesday. “Against Virginia, he is not just running, ‘Watch the knees, I have a future. Look out everybody be careful.’ He does not get down low like we have seen a lot of guys who are can’t miss prospects.
“This dude is lowering his shoulder, running into linebackers and safeties as if it is more about his competitive spirit than it is his draft status. That is what I love about him. I can’t get enough. If we are competing, ‘If I am going to put on my uniform, we are going a ten out of a ten when it comes to execution, effort or whatever I have to do win the game.’
“So that part, I don’t know if that is fully appreciated. But I know in this era of opting out and guys coming back, and they play, but they play not to get hurt. This guy is going to be the first pick overall and he does not care. He is out here to win. He wants to be a great teammate and he wants to do whatever it takes to win, and that aspect is probably what I appreciate the most about his approach to the game and his overall game.”
Herbstreit also has noticed how Lawrence has turned the rest of his game up a notch. So far this season, Lawrence ranks fifth nationally with a passer rating of 199.11. He is the only quarterback in the top 12 not to throw an interception.
Lawrence has not thrown an interception in the last 11 games, dating back to the last eight games of last year. His 314 consecutive attempts without an interception is third all-time in ACC history.
So far through three games this season, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound junior has completed 73.3 percent of his passes for 848 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 282.7 yards per game leads the ACC, as does his 11.3 yards per attempt average and seven touchdowns.
Lawrence also has three rushing touchdowns this year.
After the start he had last year, when he threw eight interceptions in his first seven games, Herbstreit says it says something about Lawrence’s toughness and mental focus to change things up and get back to taking care of the football like he did when he was a freshman.
“I think sometimes, and he went through this last year. We have seen great quarterbacks who had big success early in their careers and when they come back, whether it is their sophomore year or junior year, the bar is so high,” Herbstreit said. “I think Trevor went through it last year. Trevor has the national championship game against Alabama, where he and Justin Ross went off. They win the championship his true freshman year. He comes back that next year, great job against Alabama in the national championship and the bar was there.
But you had a whole off-season to get better and now the bar is way up here. I think Trevor will tell you, he felt that, so he started trying, like I said earlier, trying to live up to that hype. I think it really helped his growth to go through that because he settled down by the middle of the year and has not thrown an interception since.”
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