Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was the No. 1 QB and overall player in the class of 2018, according to the recruiting industry-wide 247Sports Composite. Early in the 2018 college football season, he has shown why, and he’s seeing the field plenty.
No quarterback has closed a cycle as the No. 1 overall player since Matt Barkley in 2009, but Lawrence did just that. and He also finished the recruiting cycle among the best-rated QBs ever.
He committed last December to play in college for the Clemson Tigers. Lawrence made that commitment official during the sport’s Early Signing Period.
At the sponsored camps that have come to dominate the recruiting circuit, it’s hard to glean much about prospects. There are no pads, and there’s no pass rush on quarterbacks. There is no officiating and no practice time, so it’s a fool’s errand to make pronouncements based on them. But the camps can confirm things you already know, and Lawrence strongly suggested that he’s the best quarterback recruit in the country in the Georgia camp I saw him at nearly a year ago.
Lawrence appeared at Nike’s Charlotte combine for The Opening, a top recruiting showcase, and he dominated. When Lawrence throws a football, it has a degree of zip that high school arms shouldn’t be able to produce. He isn’t accurate on every throw, but he was pretty close. He looked as sharp on downfield fly patterns as he did on little dig routes over the middle. Receivers pushed forward and backward in line so they’d get to share reps with him.
Still, camps aren’t Lawrence’s best setting. That’s game action.
Over his career at Cartersville (Ga.) High School, he averaged 16.6 yards per throw, according to numbers kept at MaxPreps. Operating a spread offense that he says mimics Clemson’s, Lawrence threw 161 touchdowns against 21 interceptions, including only one as a senior. He’s never posted lower than a 60 percent completion rate. He’s led Cartersville to the Georgia class 4A state championship two years running. But in his senior season his team got bounced from the postseason early.
Lawrence is 6’6, and he’s in solid shape. But because he’s not a lightning-fast athlete, you don’t really get why he’s so touted until you see him uncork a few throws.
“I’ll run a little bit,” Lawrence said. “I can run if I need to. I’m not slow; I’m not super fast, but I’m kind of quick and can get out of some situations, and extend plays, but I’m not a dual-threat, I wouldn’t say. Pro-style that can run a little bit.”
Before the camp in Charlotte, I asked Lawrence why evaluators are so smitten with him.
“I think part of it is just my instincts as a quarterback,” Lawrence said. “I think that’s one of my best attributes, you’d say, is my instincts, and just my accuracy is one thing too. So I guess those things. I’m not really sure why they do, so it’s up to them.”
Lawrence committed to Clemson just before the Tigers won the national championship over Alabama earlier this year. He becomes the crown jewel of the Tigers early signing class.
The Tigers have never been as attractive as they are right now, with a national title in the bank, a palace of a new facility just opened, and the top two recruits in the 2018 class committed. (Joining Lawrence is defensive end Xavier Thomas, who plays at the IMG Academy in Florida.)
“I think the offense is similar to what I do now, so it’ll be an easy transition,” Lawrence said. “And the people there, they all seem genuine, and I got a good vibe, and it felt like home there. So that’s why I chose Clemson.”
Such a talent is Lawrence that he held up the quarterback recruiting cycle for several teams, as they waited to move on to secondary targets until he made his commitment. As a junior, Lawrence was regarded more highly than almost all of the quarterbacks in the senior class ahead of him.
In fact, Lawrence is regarded by many as more talented than any QB recruit in the class of 2017, even though Lawrence is a year younger than the class ahead of him. If Deshaun Watson turns pro, the Tigers will have a lot of options to continue his legacy.
It’ll be his show in Clemson soon, and he’s up to the task.