Trevor Lawrence wouldn’t say for certain that Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh was his final one at Death Valley. But the projected No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft is expected to forgo his senior season and move on to the next level after the 2020 college football season concludes, and he was honored with the Tigers’ seniors on Senior Day at Memorial Stadium.
So if Saturday’s game was indeed his last time suiting up to play in front of the home crowd, rubbing Howard’s Rock and running down the hill, it was a great way for him to go out as he put on a superb performance in the 52-17 victory over the Panthers.
Lawrence completed 26-of-37 passes for 403 yards – one shy of his career high of 404, set earlier this season at Georgia Tech – and threw for two touchdowns with no interceptions, improving to 32-1 as a starter and tying the school record for wins as a starting quarterback. He matches the career win totals of Rodney Williams, Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson, all of whom finished with 32 wins each.
“That’s kind of been the plan going into this season,” Lawrence said following the game when asked if it was definitely his last at Death Valley. “I mean, you just never know. But if it is, it was a fun one, for sure, and I’ve enjoyed it. This place has been so good to me and my family and I love it here. So, whatever I decide to do, it’s going to be a tough decision because I love Clemson and I love the people. But yeah, if it’s the last one, it’s a good one to go out on.”
The game marked Lawrence’s 11th career 300-yard passing game. He, Tajh Boyd (18) and Deshaun Watson (13) are the only players in school history to record double-digit career 300-yard passing games.
With 412 yards of total offense, Lawrence (10,001) passed Charlie Whitehurst (9,763) for third-most career yards of total offense in Clemson history and joined Tajh Boyd (13,069) and Deshaun Watson (12,094) as the only players in Clemson history to record 10,000 yards of total offense in a career.
Lawrence was back on the field for the first time since being sidelined by COVID-19 before Clemson’s game vs. Boston College on Oct. 31. However, he showed little rust after his five-week layoff, hitting E.J. Williams in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass less than four minutes into the first quarter and then tossing another touchdown to Cornell Powell on a 43-yard flea flicker midway through the opening frame.
“It was great to be back,” Lawrence said. “Obviously the team hasn’t played in three weeks, but it’s been like five weeks for me. So, really glad to be back. Feels good. Sure I’ll be sore tomorrow after not playing for over a month, but man, it felt good to be back out there. Obviously there’s still things we need to work on as a whole offense, team. We’ve got to get better, but it felt really good and it was a successful night and that was the way the group of seniors wanted to go out. So, it was awesome.”
Taking part in Clemson’s pregame Senior Day ceremony, Lawrence joked he was a little worried that he was going to fall running down the hill by himself in front of the 18,819 fans in attendance. But being recognized with the seniors was a special experience for the junior from Cartersville, Ga., who shared the sentimental moment with family members and his fiancé on the field.
“It was awesome. I was a little bit more nervous that I was going to fall,” Lawrence said with a smile. “Usually you’ve got a lot of people around you so you don’t really think about it, but just trying to not trip. I’ve made it this many times down it, so trying not to fall down.
“But no, it was really cool. I think that’s one of the coolest things we do is how we honor the seniors, and it’s really special. Obviously, I wish the stadium could have been packed. That would have been even cooler. But still, just to have however many fans we have is special. And then my family got to come on the field after and my fiancé, and just got to take some pictures and talk to them for a minute and just kind of soak it in.”
Leading up to the game, Lawrence made sure to fully appreciate every part of what was likely his last game day in Clemson.
“I think I paid more attention to all the little things,” he said. “Kind of smelled the roses along the way. Even just from the hotel, the ride over here, pregame, coming down the hill, all that stuff – I just really took it in, and I’m just reminded constantly how special it is here. There’s just not many places like it, I wouldn’t think. Obviously I haven’t been a lot of other places, but it’s just special. The people, that’s the best thing about it. But yeah, there’s a lot of emotions for sure because this place has been good to me. It’s been awesome.”
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