Trevor Lawrence: a stud or dud?

Will Trevor Lawrence be a stud in the NFL or end up being a dud and not live up to his expectations?

Many+people+call+Trevor+Lawrence+%E2%80%9CSunshine%E2%80%9D+in+reference+to+Sunshine+from+the+movie+%E2%80%9CRemember+the+Titans%E2%80%9D%2C+seeing+a+resemblance+between+the+two.+%0A%0A

Many people call Trevor Lawrence “Sunshine” in reference to Sunshine from the movie “Remember the Titans”, seeing a resemblance between the two.

Mya Mooney, Staff Writer

Trevor Lawrence is an absolute powerhouse in not only the ACC, but all of college football as a whole. Fans will be seeing his junior and possibly final season with the Clemson Tigers. Standing at 6’6, coming out of high school in 2018, Lawrence was a 5-star quarterback and was also ranked number one overall in the nation, racking in offer after offer. Ultimately he committed to Clemson, where he has played in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, won a national championship, and was the offensive MVP of the National Championship game. Being his junior year, Lawrence will be eligible to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft immediately after he finishes the 2020 season. The 2021 NFL draft is highly anticipated as it will feature not only Trevor Lawrence, but other prominent players such as Justin Fields (QB) at The Ohio State, and Ja’Marr Chase (WR) at LSU, who are both expected to go in the first-round top five picks. With having such an impressive collegiate football career to this date, Lawrence is expected to go overall as the number one pick in the NFL draft. Looking back at his past two seasons, it’s expected that this will be his most successful year of playing.

In the fall of 2018 Lawrence made his NCAA football debut, but he was not starting. At the time Clemson’s starting quarterback was Kelly Bryant, who had been playing since 2014. Coach Dabo Swinney did allow for Lawrence to play in the first games of the season, soon finding that Lawrence was more capable, making him the starting quarterback after just four games. Lawrence taking the starting spot resulted in Bryant announcing that he would be transferring schools, ending up at Missouri. Lawrence made it clear his first season that he was not here to play around; he was here to make a statement. Within those first four games, Lawrence threw for 600 yards, had 39 completed passes out of 60, and totaled nine passing touchdowns. That in itself proved his capability to compete at the highest college level and earned him the starting spot. In total that season Lawrence completed 259 out of 397 passes, threw for 3,280 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, with a 65.24% pass completion rate, and with the very low number of only four interceptions. Although his rushing game was not as strong, with only 177 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. His freshman season would go down in Clemson history as he broke the previous freshman school records with his incredible amount of passing yards, his 30 passing touchdowns, as well as the number of wins as a quarterback. Most notable and impressive was Lawrence led Clemson to the CFP National Championship game against the notorious Alabama Crimson Tide, ranked number one at the time, and overthrew the Alabama dynasty . The final score of the iconic game was 44-16, with Clemson as the 2018 National Champions, and Lawrence being named the offensive MVP. He had no interceptions that game, threw three passing touchdowns, and had 347 passing yards, with a 62.50% completion rate. Aside from being awarded the National Champion offensive MVP, Lawrence received the Archie Griffin Award, Freshman of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year, ACC all second team, and All-ACC academic selection.

Lawrence’s fiery freshman season led many fans and sports analysts to expect an even more explosive season from him in hopes of an even stronger Clemson offensive line. His sophomore season did exceed his stats from his previous season, especially in his rushing game. This season Lawrence would increase his pass completion rate, completing 268 out 407 passes, increasing it by .61%. Lawrence also beat his record of 33 passing touchdowns by throwing 36 this season, with 3,665 passing yards. Lawrence would greatly improve on his rushing game, running 563 yards which is a considerable amount higher than last season’s 177 rushing yards, and scored nine rushing touchdowns. Unfortunately, his interceptions also increased, doubling that of last year’s four interceptions with eight interceptions. Once again Lawrence made history, tying 5th with Lamar Jackson for most touchdowns (rushing and passing), 45, in the history of the ACC. During Clemson’s game against South Carolina, 38-3 Clemson, he set a single game record for Clemson of 18 pass completions consecutively.  Having zero losses on the season, Clemson would play in the Fiesta Bowl against The Ohio State in hopes to make it once again to the CFB National Champion game. At the time Ohio State was ranked number two nationally, and Clemson at three, this game would prove to live up to its excitement, as both are very talented and mature teams. The bowl game remained neck and neck, OSU taking the lead early on, only to fall short to Clemson by 6 points, the final score being 29-23, which was relatively a low scoring game for both teams. Lawrence went up against a very strong Ohio State defense, especially the highly talented edge rusher Chase Young, who dominated the field. Even under such high pressure, Lawrence delivered a strong performance, setting a personal record of 107 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown, followed by 18 pass completions, and threw for 259 yards with two passing touchdowns. His performance in the last two quarters was critical for Clemson to walk away with a win, and another bowl ring, scoring 16 points to push Ohio underneath them. Clemson’s defensive line did have a major part in this win, as they kept Ohio at bay for the last two quarters, only allowing them to score a touchdown. This easily could be considered one of Lawrence’s hardest games to date. Clemson’s win would advance them to the CFP National Championship game for a second year in a row, except this game did not go in Clemson’s favor. Clemson would fall short to LSU, 25-42, ending their perfect season and chance at winning another National Championship title. Lawrence would only tally up 49 rushing yards with a singular rushing touchdown, and threw for 234 yards, completing 18 passes. That was no match for LSU’s powerful offensive line led by Joe Burrows (1st pick 2020 draft), who quickly established their dominance by running up the score considerably, leading 28-17 at the half, scoring two more touchdowns the second half, only allowing for Clemson to score eight points total the second half. This was Lawrence’s first loss with Clemson, leaving many disappointed. These types of losses are critical for players to experience, making room for growth; Lawrence can look back at the game as a reminder that there is always someone competing harder, and learning never stops. As amazing as he may seem, there is a lot of room for him to improve.

The 2020 season is approaching, and Lawrence will be preparing for what is assumed to be his last season with Clemson, and possibly his best. This season will look different as major conferences such as the Big Ten and MAC will postpone or not have a 2020 season at all. With that being said, Lawrence has the upperhand when being drafted to the NFL. Justin Fields, Ohio State’s quarterback is up there in the rankings in terms of talent, but will not be seeing playing time this season. Justin Fields had a solid season with Ohio State in 2019, making a name for himself after transferring from Georgia after his freshman season. In terms of possible posing threats to Lawrence, Fields would be it, having both a strong passing and rushing game. If Fields were to play this season, and Lawrence was to have not been as successful of a season, Fields could have had the chance to become the more desirable quarterback to get drafted first. Big Ten not having a season eliminates that threat, if Fields is to declare he is entering the draft, most of film is only from the 2019 season, leaving little to no room for NFL teams to see how he has improved since then. Lawrence will be playing this season and will further his chance of being the overall first round pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Looking at Lawrence’s past two seasons, it seems that his pass completion rate will most likely increase to at least a 66.00% and maybe a little bit more. In previous years both his rushing yards and passing yards increased a few hundred yards, that pattern may still occur. Lawrence could see rushing yards anywhere from 650-720 yards, probably no higher if Clemson’s wide receivers and tight ends are able to get open quickly and his offensive lineman are able to protect him. Going off of that, if his receivers are running routes that allow for them to get open quickly, Lawrence may exceed 3,800 passing yards, increasing by roughly a little under 200 from his sophomore year. As for touchdowns , both rushing and passing will probably increase to 50 or higher combined if he truly is making connections with offense on the field. Last season’s increase in interceptions hopefully helped Lawrence grow over the offseason and decrease his amount of interceptions this season. Lawrence at this point in time appears that he will remain the number one quarterback in college football.

College players being drafted to the NFL could go one of two ways, they either establish themselves as capable of competing at the highest level or see the demise of their football career in the league. As of now Lawrence is 6’6 and weighs in around 220lbs, giving him a rather large stature and presence on the field. His large stature is a huge advantage in the NFL, many of the best quarterbacks being over 6’ with exceptions such as Russell Wilson. If Lawrence continues to be consistent with increasing his yardage in both passing and rushing, he could be very successful. He would want to work on increasing his pass completion rate to at least 66% by his last college season, as many of the top tier quarterbacks in the NFL have at least a 67% completion rate or higher. Lawrence is around the right pace for passing yards per game, especially if it increases slightly and he is able to get at least 3,800 passing yards this season. It would not be surprising if Lawrence will be expected to bulk a small amount, to gain more muscle before a possible NFL debut. Between the time of his final season to when he drafted, and then eventually sees his first playing time in the NFL, Lawrence has plenty of space to grow in his skills and understanding of the game. Whether it be right off the bat or takes a season or two, Lawrence has the talent, drive, work ethic, understanding, and love for the game to make himself a name in the NFL. Lawrence has consistently improved his performance throughout his collegiate time, and expectantly will continue on with that pattern. He has shown strength, calmness, and composure during games that Clemson would barely get by or even lose. Lawrence has shown his leadership and pure knowledge of the game his freshman year and truly has been one of the most impressive true freshman quarterbacks to have played in the NCAA. Trevor Lawrence has what it takes to live up to his name in the NFL and he will.

 

*All statistics found on Clemson’s athletic page under Trevor Lawrence’s bio on the football roster.