Lawrence shoots for history tonight

Lawrence shoots for history tonight

Football

Lawrence shoots for history tonight

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Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will be shooting for history tonight at the Heisman Trophy Presentation on ESPN.

Tonight’s presentation is already historical, as it will make the first time College Football’s biggest individual award is presented virtually and hosted in a different location. The ceremony will be held in Bristol, Conn., (7 p.m.) at the ESPN headquarters.

But if Lawrence wins the Heisman Trophy, it will also be historical. No Clemson player has ever won the Heisman. The Clemson quarterback is just the second player in the program’s history to be named a finalist.

Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson was a two-time finalist in 2015 and 2016. He finished third in the Heisman race in 2015 and was the runner-up to Louisville’s Lamar Jackson in 2016.

The other three Heisman Finalist are Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and wide receiver DeVonta Smith and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. Smith is the favorite to win the award, which would make him the first wide receiver to win the Heisman, as the nation’s Most Outstanding Player, since Michigan’s Desmond Howard won it in 1991.

Smith would be just the fifth wide receiver to ever win the award, and the third player from Alabama, which has all come under head coach Nick Saban.

As for Lawrence, projected by many to be the first pick in this year’s NFL Draft, he would like to be the first Tiger to win the Heisman, but its not the end of the world to him if he does not either. For him, it has been an honor to be considered for such a prestigious award.

Lawrence led Clemson to a sixth straight ACC Championship this season, while throwing for 3,153 yards and 24 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He completed 69.2 percent of his 334 passes. He averaged a Clemson record 315.3 yards per game through the air.

He also rushed for 203 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Lawrence led the ACC in passing yards per game and completion percentage.

“I know it’s not a career award and all that, but this guy’s been doing it every year since he’s been here,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “He’s been in two national championship games. And you know, it’s not a knock on anybody else out there, but it’s so obvious who the best player in the country is.

“And, you know, I hate to even have to campaign for him, but it’s like, sometimes I think people just take him for granted like it’s just easy what he does. And, you know, it’s unbelievable what he does. The fact that he can make it look easy, it just further shows how special he is.”

With Lawrence leading the way, Clemson once again made it back to the College Football Playoff for a sixth straight year. The Tigers led the ACC in scoring offense (43.5 ppg) and passing offense (348.5 ypg) and were second in total offense (502.3 ypg).

Last month, the ACC named Lawrence as its ACC Player of the Year, as well as its Offensive Player of the Year. He was also named as the Associated Press’ Offensive Player of the Year in the ACC. The Football Writers Association of America also named as its First-Team All-American quarterback.

The Cartersville, Ga., native was also voted as the MVP in the ACC Championship Game after he completed 25-of-36 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns, while running for 90 yards and another score in the Tigers’ 34-10 win over then No. 2 Notre Dame.

Lawrence concluded his career with a 34-2 (.944) record as a starter, the third-best winning percentage by a starting quarterback with at least 30 career starts since Division I split in 1978, trailing only Miami’s Ken Dorsey (.950) and USC’s Matt Leinart (.949), according to ESPN Stats & Info.

“The Heisman has almost become a stat award. It’s about who’s got the best stats,” Swinney said. “You can have all kinds of stats. He hasn’t played in a bunch of four quarters in his career, but he’s a winner, man. He’s 34‐1.”

In addition to his on-field efforts, Lawrence has had a transcendent impact off the field as well, earning a selection on this year’s AFCA Good Works Team.

Last March, he and his now-fiancée helped organize COVID-19 relief efforts in both Upstate South Carolina and his home community of Cartersville. Over the summer, he was one of four Clemson players who helped organize and lead the Clemson Community Peaceful Demonstration that attracted several thousand people to Clemson’s campus.

And in August, Lawrence vocally ignited the #WeWantToPlay movement, mobilizing college football players around the country in support of playing the college football season safely in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawrence’s 3,153 passing yards marked the ninth 3,000-yard passing season in Clemson history. He joined Tajh Boyd as the only players in Clemson history to accomplish the feat three times. He also became the third Clemson player ever to throw for 10,000 career passing yards in a career.

Tajh Boyd (11,904) and Deshaun Watson (10,163) presently rank No. 1 and No. 2 in career passing yards in school history, while Lawrence’s 10,098 yards ranks third.

John Heisman, whom the award is named after, coached at Clemson from 1900-’03. Heisman led Clemson to a 19-3-2 record during his four years at Clemson, while winning three SIAA Conference Championships.

Clemson has had eight previous top 10 finishes in Heisman history, led by Watson’s second-place finish in 2016. Lawrence finished seventh in Heisman voting a season ago.

TOP HEISMAN FINISHES (CLEMSON HISTORY)
YEAR PLAYER FINISH
2016 QB Deshaun Watson 2
2015 QB Deshaun Watson 3
2009 RB C.J. Spiller 6
1978 QB Steve Fuller 6
2019 QB Trevor Lawrence 7
2018 RB Travis Etienne 7
1939 QB Banks McFadden 8
2019 RB Travis Etienne 9

–Clemson Athletic Communications contributed to this story

 

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