Over the summer, when there was uncertainty surrounding whether college football would be played in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence started the united #WeWantToPlay movement on social media that saw many of college football’s biggest stars speak out about their desire to play and do so safely.
On Aug. 9 – the same day Power Five conference commissioners held a meeting to discuss the viability of playing football in the fall, and with some conferences appearing to sway toward postponing the season until the spring – Lawrence took his stance with a three-part thread on Twitter that sparked a series of more tweets from other star players following suit.
People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play. Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19 (1)
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 9, 2020
Players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we’ve seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) August 9, 2020
The efforts of Lawrence and his fellow players to save the season clearly made a difference, and they ultimately got what they fought for with all of the Power Five conferences eventually deciding to play some number of games this fall.
On Tuesday, during his Sugar Bowl media teleconference, Lawrence reflected on the #WeWantToPlay movement and the role he played in it during the summer when the status of the college football season was up in the air.
“It’s cool to be a part of something like that,” Lawrence said. “It wasn’t just me. My name gets thrown on the headline and label and everything, but definitely wasn’t just me. I probably didn’t even do most of the work. But it’s cool to be a part of that, and I think we’ll look back on that as a pretty cool moment and kind of a turning point.”
The goal of the movement to play was accomplished, according to Lawrence, who says it provided players with opportunities they otherwise may not have had if the fall 2020 college football season had been cancelled.
Lawrence pointed to one of his wide receivers, Cornell Powell, as a prime example of that.
“This game means a lot to a lot of people, and I think playing this year helped a lot of people a lot,” Lawrence said. “I mean, you think about one of our receivers, Cornell Powell – fifth-year senior, hadn’t played a ton up until this point, and this was kind of his year. He had a really good spring and fall camp, and he was expecting this to be his year to really improve himself. And without a season, he’s in a whole different situation. He just got invited to the Senior Bowl. Has had a great year, been a great teammate. Without a season, that changes a lot for him. That’s just one example.
“So, hopefully playing this year has helped a lot of people and it’s been worth it. I think it’s been a success. If you look at how kind of 2020’s gone, I think this has been a success as much as it could be.”
Powell entered his fifth season at Clemson this year having recorded only 40 career receptions for 329 yards and three touchdowns in 42 games. But the Greenville, N.C., native has had a breakout campaign in 2020, amassing 45 receptions for 743 yards and five scores in 11 games en route to third-team All-ACC honors and an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
If the college football season hadn’t been played this fall, Powell wouldn’t have had the chance to showcase his ability, and the outlook of his future might look much different without that opportunity.
“I feel like this year has been crazy, but it’s also been amazing, man,” Powell said during his Sugar Bowl presser Tuesday. “I really want to give all the glory to God, just allowing it to happen.”
Powell said that with the college football season hanging in the balance at one point, his appreciation for the game grew and it gave him even more motivation to take advantage of the opportunities he got when he was able to take the field.
“I just wanted to make sure that – you never know how many games you’re going to get – so, each game, go out there and play it like it’s your last,” Powell said. “I really felt like it helped, in a way. It helped me push more. I was already dedicated and locked in. I had changed the way I prepared, the way I focused, everything, and then everything happened with COVID.
“When we finally got a chance to come back to the facility and actually play and practice, it was just a different level of energy and intensity within the locker room that I haven’t seen before. I knew that it was going to be a special year, and I just wanted to make sure that I did everything possible each week to make sure, because we never knew if we were going to have another week.”
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