CLEMSON — Trevor Lawrence is not one for long speeches that begin with catch-phrases. No opening lines such as, “Let me hit you with some knowledge” or “Hey, guys, here’s the way I see it ...”
Clemson’s 19-year-old rising sophomore quarterback still has made only 11 college starts. But because Lawrence is 11-0 in those games and because the last two were masterful performances in routs of Notre Dame and Alabama on the way to a national championship, he gets the attention of teammates with an economical use of words.
“Let’s get better.”
“Everybody just knows that he’s our leader,” junior wide receiver Amari Rodgers said. “He’s QB1 now. He doesn’t talk much, but when he talks, we listen. He’s proven himself.”
An unassuming nature, the way Lawrence smoothly handled competing with and eventually beating out Kelly Bryant last season, that’s part of it, too.
Add a new leadership role to Lawrence’s jaw-dropping freshman season and the complete college quarterback package is emerging.
“I feel like we’ve started off in a good place, especially for me,” Lawrence said Monday night after the Tigers’ fourth spring practice. “I’m in a lot different spot than I was last year, coming in and trying to learn everything. So it feels good. I feel comfortable.”
The upside has to be scary for Clemson foes. Consider that Lawrence hasn’t yet been through a full spring or preseason as the quarterback getting the bulk of snaps.
Fellow Clemson players are fully on board the Trevor train.
“He’s the same dude in and out,” senior safety Tanner Muse said. “He grinds. He’s always going to be that guy with a top-level work ethic. Always.”
Everyone on campus and in Pickens County is well aware.
The 6-6 frame and long blonde hair give Lawrence away.
“He’s definitely got that celebrity status after that season,” Muse said. “You see it all the time, and he does a great job with it.”
At this rate, by the time Lawrence is through at Clemson, every student and season ticket holder will have a selfie.
“You just have to be ready going out,” Lawrence said. “It’s a little different than it used to be. You have to be ready to take pictures and talk to people and be real social when you go out. You can’t go out and just do your own thing. So it’s kind of picking and choosing.”
It wouldn’t be so hard, head coach Dabo Swinney said Monday, if Lawrence just shaved his head.
“He might be able to go to Publix,” Swinney said, only half-joking.
But the most noticeable change is on the field, where Lawrence is much more comfortable taking charge.
Throwing for 3,280 yards and 30 touchdowns with only four interceptions goes a long way.
“He has a lot more confidence,” junior wide receiver Tee Higgins said. “You can tell he’s taking a lead and getting us right, doing all those little things.”
Practice had been over for almost a half-hour Monday night but a few players remained on the field at Clemson’s indoor facility. Not surprisingly, one of them was No. 16, easily recognizable even without the jersey.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.