Trevor Lawrence hype ratchets up at media days


It's right about this time in the summer when fans begin yearning for college football. 

With just brief moments of news between signing day, spring practice sessions and media days, the offseason college football news cycle is mostly a desert of conjecture and anticipation.

However, college football headlines have re-emerged in earnest over the last week or so thanks to media days. And, in contrast to other years, one of the most notable national college football offseason debates pertains partially to Cartersville. 

Former Purple Hurricane Trevor Lawrence has found himself in the middle of that debate, as he has drawn headlines for heating up the competition for the starting quarterback position for projected national title contender Clemson.

The buzz around the quarterback competition came to the forefront of discussion this week as Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and his coaching staff gave comments on the signal-caller discussion during ACC media days and Swinney's annual media golf outing Tuesday.

Swinney very graciously said that Kelly Bryant is the starter, but that the margin between him, Lawrence and Chase Brice is thin.

There was a lot of talk about a dual-QB system that would allow Lawrence to earn more playing time on the field with specialized running packages for Bryant throughout the season.

"I really believe we could win with all three of them," Swinney told the Associated Press. "It's a great spot to be in." Clemson beat reporter Larry Williams added fuel to the fire Tuesday, reporting, "A Clemson staffer is researching how other teams have successfully juggled two-quarterback systems. Tigers' coaches sound quite open to playing Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence."

The fact that there is even a discussion about a two-quarterback system is eye-opening, given Bryant is a senior who helped the Tigers to a 12-win season, an ACC championship and a College Football Playoff appearance in 2017.

But that is just how impressive Lawrence was during the spring practice session.

“How’s that going to shake out? I don’t really have any [idea],” Swinney said. “But the gap closed. So we’ll see what happens. It’s a daily competition.”

The Clemson offensive assistant coaches only added to the idea that Lawrence is in serious contention for a starting position.

Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said Bryant leads the QBs out of spring but Lawrence is "on his heels."

Meanwhile, Clemson quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter repeatedly compared Lawrence's poise and talent to recent Clemson national-championship winning quarterback Deshaun Watson during his interview at the golf event.

“Everybody knew who he was, he’s got the long hair, and he’s done such a good job of meshing with our team and our other quarterbacks and not overstepping his boundaries," Streeter said of Lawrence. "He’s really tried to focus on earning the respect of his teammates. When you get to know him, he’s a really good kid, great personality, high character. So everybody has gained that respect for Trevor whether they’re a quarterback or not. He and Kelly and Chase get along great. There have never been any awkward moments or uneasiness. These guys are pulling for each other.”

Clemson All-American defensive end Clelin Ferrell echoed his coaches' comments.

“You just see the talent [in Lawrence]," Ferrell told reporters at an ACC media day. "He is as advertised. He came in with that skill set and pure talent. He is really laid back and is the kind of guy that just kind of knows that he has the ability to play at this level. I love that man. There was one play where we were in the indoor [practice facility] and he just launched it like 50 and 60 yards with a side arm into the end zone and I was just like, ‘Wow.’ I really see all of the talent there in him.”

ESPN College football and recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill, who was a sideline reporter during Cartersville's win against Bartram Trail at Weinman Stadium and during the Clemson spring game, favors Lawrence in the competition.

"What I think will end up happening is getting early snaps for Lawrence and building confidence for him," Luginbill said during ESPN's coverage of media days. "Lawrence can do things Kelly Bryant can't do."

Vegas has responded accordingly to the buzz, with some sportsbooks giving Lawrence the third-best odds to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy at 9/1, tied with Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and behind only Stanford running back Bryce Love and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor.

However, while the Clemson quarterback position will continue to be a hot topic of discussion until football season actually begins, the situation will play itself out when practices and games actually begin.

The Clemson coaches have said all three quarterbacks will play during Week 1 against FCS Furman on Sept. 1, but the next week at Texas A&M will be more telling.

“We know that Kelly left the spring as the guy and Trevor was on his heels and Chase Brice made really good progress, too,” Elliott told The Post and Courier. “We’re excited about getting back on the grass and seeing who took what we asked them to do this offseason, this summer, [and did it]."