Trevor Lawrence leaves Clemson with his football legacy more than secure

Trevor Lawrence leaves Clemson as one of the greatest players of all time: national champion, record holder, winner.

That he’s the best player available for the 2021 NFL Entry Draft has never been questioned – not this year, not last year, and not even when his performance in the National Championship college football playoff game against Alabama as a real newcomer sent his stock skyrocketing and put the term Tank for Trevor in common parlance.

His clear dominance in the 44-16 winning in Santa Clara, California not only consolidated his status as the future number one in the overall standings. This added even more expectations for a player who already had astronomical expectations as the best quarterback in high school.

Over the course of the next two seasons, Lawrence continued recruiting, collecting touchdown passes and oohs and aahs, improving his playing and expanding his quarterback repertoire. While other quarterbacks have made more rotations, some better, Lawrence has put Clemson in the CFP as a starter in each of his three seasons.

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No other quarterback can say that.

The fact that Lawrence did this with increased expectations, positional pressure, defense, the key to keeping him quiet week after week, speaks to his natural ability not only to throw the ball, but to lead with grace, character and humility. It is rare to find a quarterback that meets the expectations of people in their second year of high school; it is even rarer to find a quarterback that does so without changing who he is or who he plays for, or without exhausting himself by getting tested and starting to fight accordingly.

Lawrence did all this while remaining true to himself, his teammates and his sport. He answered that call when they needed him the most this summer. Twice. Lawrence helped his teammate and good friend Darien Rancher organize a school protest march with fellow Tiger Mike Jones Jr. and Cornell Powell after the death of George Floyd, and showed public support for them and the social justice movement on social media. Then, in August, he was instrumental in the We Want to Play movement. He was the most prominent player who called on university football officials to help teams play in the light of a coronavirus pandemic. Players and coaches have repeatedly credited him with saving the season, although Lawrence quickly surpassed that credit.

Everything he has done has made it clear that Trevor Lawrence knows who he is, and he has never hesitated at that point – a rarity for a 21-year-old, not to mention the fact that he is not just the face of his team, but of university football as a whole.

He was willing to answer any question without ever dodging or avoiding – qualities that will serve him well in his transition to the NFL, where criticism of his game will begin now that he has officially joined the national team. What awaits him will be the greatest challenge of his career: The Jacksonville Jaguars are number 1 and have lost 15 races in a row. It is not only his successful pedigree, but also his leadership qualities, personality and his keen understanding of his role as the face of honesty that has led him not only to help on the field, but also to improve the culture in the locker room.

All I know is that Trevor is the most successful quarterback in the history of the school, he’s made the playoffs three years in a row, he’s won three CCA titles, he’s an incredible leader, said Clemson’s offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. But the best thing about Trevor Lawrence, for which he may not have the honor, is that he’s a young man. All he thinks about is his team. For a young man who has been under supervision since high school to reach the level he has reached and never change, to challenge himself to improve as a person – I think that embodies what Heisman is all about.

Lawrence certainly embodies these ideals, and it’s no disgrace to finish second in the Heisman by voting for Alabama’s receiver DeVonte Smith. Lawrence was the favorite at the beginning of the season and first in the middle of the season, but after missing two races due to a positive test for coronavirus, Lawrence was in the back of the race, while Smith emerged with his dazzling playing ability.

It is rare for Heisman’s favorites to win the prize, and in this case Lawrence has shown what he is capable of for three seasons. Instead of recognizing his NFL skills and his ability to make shots that many professional quarterbacks just can’t, it’s almost as if Lawrence is taken for granted because he makes everything so easy. I’m a dead man. I’ve seen that. A shoulder movement.

Who makes 34-2 as a starter, makes three consecutive university football play-off appearances, throws more than 10,000 yards and scores 108 touchdowns in just three seasons?

Nobody but Lawrence.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Trevor Lawrence’s dominance of the National University Football Championship 2019 has only raised expectations. Dean Fitzmaurice for ESPN

These figures are staggering. However, the ease with which he did it week after week may have eliminated the wow factor that surprised everyone when he was a real freshman. His performance in the CCA championship is a perfect example of this.

After a positive test for COWID-19, he saw Clemson lose his first game against Notre Dame in November. Lawrence totaled 410 yards and three touchdowns in the return game. His presence alone made a huge difference in the racing game and let the Tigers dominate from start to finish. But when Alabama and Smith went into the field against Florida later that night, what Lawrence felt was almost forgotten.

Trevor has played at such a high level since he came here and I think people are just getting used to it, said Clemson’s Amari Rogers, a receiver. They just expect it from him, but they miss the consistency he has shown throughout his career to play at such a high level and lead our team to victory every week.

As a CCA coach recently told me, Trevor is the best school soccer player. Statistics are so misleading. Trevor didn’t have to throw 500 yards and run 100 yards to win, but if he had to, he could have done so.

It is very rare to find a player who can sit in the bag and play the position as well as he can and then run when he can. It’s scary. I think he’s playing faster this year than he did last year. His body seems to shrink more. Looks like he’s going faster.

Lawrence has worked hard to become a better player after losing the national championship game against LSU a year ago, when he played badly in his first loss as a starter – a complete counterbalance to what we saw in the first year. It was LSU, not Clemson, who led an unstoppable attack with a quarterback that could not miss. Lawrence fought as hard as he did, 18 for 37 for 234 yards. His only touchdown run.

Despite the setback this low season brought, Lawrence showed an improvement. After Lawrence had thrown 400 yards against Georgia Tech earlier in the season, Elliott noted that Lawrence enjoyed the moment, played free and appreciated the fact that they all had a chance to play.

There is no doubt that Lawrence is one of the greatest actors in the history of the school. But it’s a little harder to estimate the exact location than it seems. Some believe his predecessor, Deshaun Watson, is the best quarterback in the history of the school because he made Clemson a candidate for the annual national title and paved the way for Lawrence to continue that tradition.

National College Football Championship presented by AT&T
Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)
Monday: 20:00 ET on ESPN and the ESPN application.

University Football Playoff Semi-Final at Rose Bowl
AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Alabama 31, Notre Dame 14

Ohio State Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semifinals
Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans)
Ohio State 49, Clemson 28

Lawrence ended his university career not with a championship trophy like Watson at the end of the 2016 season, but with a hug from coach Dabo Swinney on the sidelines after his defeat to Ohio State in the semifinals of the university football play-off. He and Clemson must have thought of something else for this season. But for the second game in a row, the quarterback showed a better game on the other side in qualifying.

Lawrence then pointed out some of the mistakes he had made and said he wanted to get rid of them, adding that he didn’t regret it.

I know how I’ve prepared, how this team has prepared and how we’ve performed this year, I’m proud of that, Lawrence said. I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t need much to go back and change.

There must be no regrets. Lawrence won a championship and earned more than any other Clemson quarterback, and he represented his school and himself well.

His place in history is more than assured.

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