Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney compared watching Trevor Lawrence throw the football around at his Pro Day workout Friday to watching NBA star Steph Curry shoot a basketball.
Lawrence put his accuracy and supreme arm talent on display in front of Swinney and more than 30 total scouts, coaches and front office people representing the 17 NFL teams that attended Lawrence’s Pro Day at the Poe Indoor Practice Facility in Clemson.
“This is about as easy evaluation of a throwing session as you can have,” Swinney said in an interview with ESPN’s Rece Davis following the Pro Day. “I mean, he’s only trained for two weeks. He took three weeks off, he’s trained for two weeks, new ball and different things. But he went through the script and did what he needed to do.
“It’s a beautiful thing to watch. It’s like watching Steph Curry shoot a basketball. It’s just fun to watch this guy throw it, and I thought he did a great job today.”
Lawrence, widely expected to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in April’s NFL Draft, did not need to participate in a Pro Day workout. But he chose to throw for NFL teams, anyway, despite the fact he had to move his Pro Day date up ahead of Clemson’s on March 11 so he could get his upcoming shoulder surgery out of the way as soon as possible.
Lawrence, who is scheduled to undergo a procedure to repair the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder next week, is expected to be fully recovered by the time NFL training camps start later this summer.
“That’s why Trevor’s out here to throw (Friday) because he wanted to go ahead and get this surgery behind him,” Swinney said. “He doesn’t want to assume anything, take anything for granted. He wanted to show anybody that would show up that he would come out here and throw, especially on limited time. Instead of waiting until March the 13th or 14th to get the surgery, he can go ahead and get it done on Tuesday, and he’s getting married April 10th. So, he’ll just be a lot further along and ready to go when they get to the summer.”
Lawrence enjoyed one of the most decorated careers by a quarterback in college football history from 2018-20, leading Clemson to a national championship as a true freshman in 2018 and serving as the face and voice of the sport in the two seasons that followed – including last year when he was instrumental in the #WeWantToPlay movement when the fall season was in doubt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Swinney had a front-row seat to watch Lawrence steadily mature into a tremendous leader, both on and off the field, over his three years at Clemson.
“His first year when he came in here, he’s trying to just earn the respect and everybody get to know who he is, and then last year he was becoming the leader of the offense, and then this year, it was become the leader of the team,” Swinney said. “And then with all the things that happened in our world and things that happened with this pandemic, I think he became a leader of college football, and you probably could argue that he’s one of the main reasons that we played college football. He didn’t have to play this year, but the leadership that he took upon himself as a player, as a voice, for all those players to kind of change the narrative … I think that really says it all.
“Again, this is a kid that didn’t have to play a snap. But you can watch from the very beginning and how he fought to play, to watch the last three or four minutes of the Ohio State game when the game is over, and he’s still playing like it’s a three-point game. That’s leadership. That’s commitment. That’s a mentality that’s hard to coach.”
Lawrence concluded his career 34-2 (.944) as a starter – the third-best winning percentage by a starting quarterback with at least 30 career starts since the Division I split in 1978 – and exited Clemson as the winningest starting quarterback in program history, surpassing the 32 career wins held by Rodney Williams, Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson. The Cartersville, Ga., native finished his career undefeated as a starter in regular season play and did not lose a regular season game at either the high school or collegiate levels.
Aside from his special physical tools and winning pedigree, it’s Lawrence’s intangibles that make Swinney confident he will be the face of an NFL franchise and a surefire superstar at the next level.
“His skill set and his measurables, they’re unique and easy to see. They’re obvious,” Swinney said. “But it’s the immeasurables, it’s those intangibles, that really make him special. He’s just a great young man, first of all. He’s been in the spotlight for a long time. I mean, this kid, since the ninth grade, he’s been Trevor Lawrence and he has this huge presence. And he’s 34-2 as a starter. He never lost a home game, he never lost a road game. His two losses were in neutral-field games. He’s an incredible winner. He’s got an unbelievable football mind, great football IQ. He’s got great film. He’s played against the best of the best, and you can watch all the tape.
“But I think as football people, we know you practice this game a lot more than you play it, and how he’s been challenged in practice here for a long time against a great defense and great scheme and all these things – again, he’s just so prepared from a mental standpoint. But he’s a great leader. He’s a great teammate.”
Swinney foresees Lawrence becoming an NFL icon easily recognized by fans around the world and not just the U.S.
“I think he has a chance to be one of these international, global-type NFL stars as he goes throughout his career, simply because he’s one of those guys that’s – a lot of times you don’t know who a guy is when they take their helmet off in the game of football – but Trevor, helmet or no helmet, he’s easy to spot, both on and off the field,” Swinney said. “And I just love his balance in life. He’s got a great family, great support system, he’s simple. He’s getting married to his middle-school sweetheart April the 10th. He looks like Hollywood and he’s the most un-Hollywood guy you’d ever meet. He’s about his business, and everything about him will translate very well day one in the NFL.”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of David Platt/Clemson Athletics Communications
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