Clemson University

Is this the year Clemson has first Heisman winner? More than one Tiger has a shot

‘It’s time to be about it and not talk about it.’ Dabo Swinney talks start of fall camp

Clemson opens fall camp as the top ranked team in the country. Here's what Dabo Swinney said as the team gets started.
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Clemson opens fall camp as the top ranked team in the country. Here's what Dabo Swinney said as the team gets started.

Clemson has accomplished just about everything you can in college football under Dabo Swinney.

The Tigers have won a pair of national titles in three years, are the class of the ACC and have established themselves as one of the top two programs in the sport, alongside Alabama.

The one feat missing under Swinney and missing all-time at Clemson? Having a Heisman Trophy winner.

Former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson came the closest to winning the award given to the top player in college football, finishing as a finalist twice, including the runner-up in 2016. But no Clemson player has ever won the award that was named after former Clemson coach John Heisman, who led the Tigers from 1900-1903.

There’s a chance that could change this year as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence enters the season as one of the favorites. Lawrence has the second-best odds, just behind Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, according to Oddshark.

Tagovailoa is the favorite at 2.5-to-1 odds, while Lawrence is 2.75-to-1.

“I mean, it’s not really one of my goals. It would be awesome if it happened,” Lawrence said following Clemson’s first practice of fall camp Friday. “But first things first. I want to win a national championship. I think that’s our team goal. And I think stuff like that, if it comes with it that’s awesome. But I’m just going to do my job, do what I’m supposed to do and see how it plays out.”

Lawrence’s job entering the 2019 season is a little different than it was this time last year. There is no starting quarterback battle, and Lawrence is no longer looking up to his older teammates to be leaders.

Instead, Swinney challenged Lawrence during the spring and into the summer to become one of the leaders on the team. The sophomore has done that.

“The biggest thing I want to see I’ve already seen, and that’s him asserting himself as a leader of the team. Because this time last year he wasn’t in that situation,” Swinney said. “He was in line trying to go prove something, had never taken a college snap. Well, now he’s got a little bit of a resume. So use that in a positive way and really assert yourself as a leader of this football team, not just the offense. Be a leader.”

Swinney also challenged Lawrence to get bigger and stronger, and the 6-foot-6 signal caller did that as well. Lawrence weighed in at 220 pounds on Thursday, five pounds heavier than he was in the spring.

“I think just being able to take some more hits. I think that’s the biggest thing, just gaining some weight, being able to take some more hits. And maybe be able to run a little bit more if I need to,” Lawrence said.

The former top recruit in college football is the most likely Clemson player to win the Heisman this season, but he’s not the only candidate on the roster.

Running back Travis Etienne has the 12th-best odds at 30-1 after finishing seventh in Heisman voting last year.

The junior set the Clemson record for rushing yards in a season in 2018, finishing with 1,658.

“It’s awesome. He’s worked for that,” Lawrence said of Etienne also being a candidate.. “It’s nice having a guy like that in the backfield being able to help you out. Whatever a defense wants, we can run it, we can throw it. We can do whatever we need to do. So it’s awesome.”

Clemson receiver Tee Higgins has the 19th-best odds at 60-1, while former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant — now at Missouri — has the 22nd-best odds at 75-1.

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