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Lawrence Positioning Himself as All-Time Great

By Dave Holcomb
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With one more great year, Lawrence will become an obvious choice to be included among some of the best ACC players of the last 20 years.

Trevor Lawrence arrived at Clemson as the No. 1 recruit in the 2018 class and a Top 10 all-time prospect based upon the rankings at 247Sports. At quarterback, 247Sports considers Vice Young the only better high school prospect than Lawrence.

The expectations could not have been higher for Lawrence coming into college. Yet, only two years into his career, he’s arguably already met them, and he has a golden opportunity to cement one of the best legacies in ACC history this fall.

Sophomore year turned out to be a rather interesting one for Lawrence. After beginning the season as one of the Heisman Trophy favorites, he experienced early interception trouble.  Then in October, Lawrence went on an incredible streak to lead Clemson back to the National Championship. The storybook season then ended with a dud performance on the biggest stage.

That makes the national narrative surrounding Lawrence heading into 2020 a little convoluted. He’s clearly the consensus top pick for 2021 mock drafts, but there’s still things some critics want him to prove.

With his amount of talent, another slow start like 2019 seems unlikely. Lawrence threw five interceptions in the first three weeks, and in one of those games, he failed to complete 60 percent of his passes or reach 200 yards.

Despite that start, Lawrence still finished the year with a 65.8 completion percentage, 3.665 passing yards, 9.0 yards per pass average, 36 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He led the ACC in yards, yards per pass and completion percentage. Lawrence benefited in the ACC quarterback statistical rankings from playing more games, but his 9.0 yards per pass placed him in the Top 10 nationally.

Lawrence didn’t throw another pick after Week 8. In the final eight games, he tossed 22 touchdowns, including multiple scores in every game except one, with zero interceptions.

Unfortunately for Clemson, Lawrence ended a streak of seven straight games of multiple touchdown passes and zero interceptions in the National Championship Game. Lawrence struggled in the playoffs, completing only 51.4 percent of his passes for 7.0 yards per attempt against Ohio State and LSU.

But Lawrence somewhat receives a pass for his average performance in last year’s postseason because he dominated in the 2018 playoffs. Even with his just “so-so” games to end 2019, Lawrence is 3-1 with 291.75 passing yards per game, 8.3 yards per pass average, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in the College Football Playoffs during his career.

With one more great year, Lawrence will become an obvious choice to be included among some of the best ACC players of the last 20 years. If Lawrence finishes 2020 with the Heisman Trophy, which he certainly has the talent to do, then he will become the first ACC quarterback since Jameis Winston with both the Heisman and a national championship.

Of course, a second national title might be even more likely than the Heisman. To win college football’s most coveted individual award, Lawrence will have to play nearly perfectly all season, but Clemson can still win in the ACC if he experiences an offday.

Because of that fact, Clemson is as likely as any program to make the College Football Playoffs this fall. If that happens, Lawrence will become the first quarterback with three CFP appearances.

That alone takes his legacy into another stratosphere. Then if he plays in those games like he did in 2018, Lawrence could not only surpass Deshaun Watson but leave Clemson with one of the most decorated careers in college football history.