The Trevor Lawrence era is set to begin.
Clemson on Monday officially announced the freshman as its starting quarterback for Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
The top overall prospect for the class of 2018 came off the bench in Clemson’s first four games of the season, with senior Kelly Bryant serving as the starter. But Lawrence will get an opportunity to make the first start of his college career this weekend.
“Just like we do every week, we sit down and have a staff meeting and evaluate every player and their performance. And after four games, just looking at it, it just came down to more productivity,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott explained. “He’s taken advantage of his opportunities. Kelly didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just a situation where [Trevor’s] been in the game and he’s been productive, and to be fair to competition, coaches decided to name him the starter for this game.”
Lawrence played his best game of the year this past week against Georgia Tech, passing for four touchdowns in the 49-21 victory.
The Georgia native was in for six drives and Clemson scored touchdowns on five of them. The only drive the Tigers did not score on came when Lawrence threw an interception, but the turnover came after a mistake by running back Travis Etienne.
“He really played well. It was certainly his best game,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said Sunday. “He was very poised, and I think the game has slowed down for him. He’s making good decisions; he’s decisive with the ball. ... He made some beautiful throws.”
Lawrence this season is 39 of 60 passing for 600 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
Bryant is 36 for 54 passing for 461 yards with two touchdowns and one pick.
Elliott clarified that just because Lawrence will start doesn’t mean that Bryant won’t play.
“It’s not a lifetime contract. He’s gotta prove it in practice and prove it in the next game,” Elliott said. “And when Kelly gets his opportunities, he’ll have his chance to compete.”
Bryant led Clemson to the College Football Playoff and ACC title last season and is 16-2 as a starting quarterback in his college career.
One of his two losses came last season against Syracuse when Bryant was hobbled from the start and was knocked out of the game in the first half with an injury. Still, Elliott said the coaching staff had to do what was best for the team.
“I’m not gonna say it’s difficult because that’s the mindset and culture we have in place in this program. These guys know that you have to bring it every single day,” Elliott said. “They recognize the competition level. Kelly has done a lot for us, but he understood going into it that he was going to have to compete just like every position.”