Clemson University

Trevor Lawrence excelling at Clemson. There’s one big adjustment he has to make

Dabo Swinney recaps Clemson’s first scrimmage

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney discusses standouts from the first preseason scrimmage
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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney discusses standouts from the first preseason scrimmage

It has been obvious from the moment Trevor Lawrence enrolled at Clemson in January that he is anything but a typical freshman quarterback.

As the No. 1 overall recruit in the country for the class of 2018, Lawrence arrived in the Upstate with a buzz, which was only strengthened after the Georgia native stole the show during Clemson’s spring game in April.

Lawrence handled his first high-pressure situation at Clemson about as well as he possibly could have, completing 11 of 16 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown in front of approximately 55,000 fans whoall had their eyes on him.

The performance was not a surprise to Tigers quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter, who started recruiting Lawrence when he was a freshman and watched him step up his game during big moments throughout his high school career.

Lawrence led Cartersville High to a 52-45 victory against Bartram Trail during a game that was televised by ESPN during his senior season. He completed 18 of 23 passes for 403 yards and four touchdowns in the victory.

“If you had to pick one game, that was the game that he was the best in,” Streeter said of Lawrence’s performance on national TV. “He’s got a unique ability. ... Similar to Deshaun (Watson) where pressure really doesn’t bother him ... By no means is any freshman going to go out there and be perfect. But he’s the type of kid that can shrug it off and move on and be very successful.”

Lawrence has continued to demonstrate an ability to thrive under pressure during the first two weeks of preseason camp.

He was the most accurate quarterback during the portion of Clemson’s first practice that was open to the media, and he performed well in Clemson’s first scrimmage of the preseason last Saturday.

While some people may struggle to adjust to the college game, Lawrence has handled the transition smoothly.

Tigers coach Dabo Swinney credits Lawrence being a four-year starter in high school and playing such a big role in Cartersville’s offense for helping to offset some of the difficulties that some freshmen face early in their college careers.

“He did everything in high school, from the ninth grade on. There’s not much that we do that he hadn’t done,” Swinney said. “It’s very natural for him, the ball handling, first level, second level, third level reads. From a run-pass game that’s been pretty easy for him.”

Of course, Lawrence isn’t perfect. There are intricacies that come with playing quarterback for one of the top programs in the country that have to be learned as you go, and Lawrence still has some work to do.

“I think the biggest difference is the protections. There’s a lot more that we ask of these guys protection wise, because we see a lot more, especially going against our defense and trying to survive,” Swinney said. “You’ve gotta understand the protections.”

But as far as arm strength, understanding the system and gelling with teammates, Lawrence appears to be living up to the hype and then some.

“Trevor is everything that you think he is,” Swinney said. “He’s just a very gifted player.”