When life is going well, they sing your praises, pat you on the back and parade you as a champion in front of anyone willing to look. When you lose, you’ll notice that your throng of supporters dwindles very quickly. After losing the 2020 National Championships with Clemson, quarterback Trevor Lawrence showed his football mortality in his second season of college football. While his immortality as a college football star is now in question following the loss, you shouldn’t abandon the S.S. Lawrence quite yet.
Prior to the championship game falter, Lawrence was considered the best pro prospect in college, despite not being eligible for the NFL until 2021. With a cannon for an arm, patience in the pocket, and an ability to deliver precisely to his targets all over the field, it seemed he could do no wrong. Well, at least that was the case in his freshman season. Lawrence impressed from his very arrival on campus, giving Clemson’s returning QB Kelly Bryant a battle for the starting job. After a few games, head coach Dabo Swinney named Lawrence the starter, where he would take Clemson on his back and lead them to a National title in 2019.
After winning the Natty and taking the sport by storm, it seemed that Trevor Lawrence still had more room to improve on what was an insane debut. He entered the 2019 season as the early favourite to win the Heisman Trophy. Many prognosticators predicted that Clemson would repeat as national champs because of his presence. Apparently the buzz must have gotten to Lawrence and his team, because Clemson struggled out of the gates to start his sophomore year. The QB sailed some balls, appearing out of rhythm. The running game struggled to get going. Clemson was used to running up the score against opponents during the 2018 season, boat-racing opponents into submission. In 2019, the Tigers narrowly clawed their way to win in the regular season, showing vulnerability for the first time in a long while. Despite the struggles to ramp up the offense out of the gates, Clemson eventually found the gas pedal in the middle of the year.
While it may have been too late for Lawrence to reassert himself into the Heisman race, he’ll tell you that his focus turned to keeping Clemson undefeated in college. Though he gave an “aw, shucks” approach in the face of defeat, the QB made sure to praise the coaching staff and teammates for his success. Clemson does field a roster with NFL talent such as receivers Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross, and running back Travis Etienne. With all that said, Lawrence has been the catalyst to success for Clemson for much of the last two seasons. Lawrence has been the constant in the Tigers’ success formula.
Or at least it did. Clemson went toe-to-toe with a buzz saw in the form of the LSU Tigers. Superstar pivot, Joe Burrow, was at the helm. In a game that featured a load of NFL talent, many assumed that Clemson’s best chance of emerging victorious rested on the right arm, legs and mind of Trevor Lawrence. With his championship pedigree established as a freshman, the assumption was that a second appearance in the title game would be a cake walk, despite facing a formidable opponent. Instead of the golden-haired signal caller shining on the big stage, Lawrence turned in one of the least impressive outings of his young career. Completing 18 of his 37 pass attempts for 234 passing yards, with an additional 49 yards rushing, was not enough to derail LSU. And then with his Championship Monday shortcoming, Lawrence’s knack for the extraordinary failed us all. While none of those throws were intercepted, he was unable to connect for a score through the air or on the ground. It was a much-maligned performance for a player many had grown to expect to elevate those around him. But, for one night, on the game’s biggest stage, Trever Lawrence failed to get the job done.
There’s a life after losing. Each of us knows that. While not many of us may understand what losing a title game on a big stage is like, the world certainly won’t come to an end following for Trevor Lawrence. It might even be the best thing to happen to him. In all likelihood, Lawrence will be in the running to be the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
No one questions your wins — unless you’re the Houston Astros — it seems. But if you’ve ever been interviewed for a job, you know a prominent question most interviewers ask is about overcoming adversity. A major loss the likes that Clemson suffered can ruin momentum for the following season. Blame gets passed around, players can experience a hangover from coming up short. But with Lawrence at the helm, the Clemson Tigers won’t dwell in misery throughout the offseason. For the first time since his arrival to campus, Lawrence has earned the hype he receives. Now, with some wondering whether he should be considered the best quarterback prospect this decade, I ask you one question: Do you want to bet against Trevor Lawrence and the Clemson Tigers in 2020?