SAN JOSE, Calif. — The week that Trevor Lawrence arrived on Clemson's campus and forever changed the future of the program, the 6-6 freshman quarterback with the long blond hair found himself at the Esso Club having lunch.
It was around this time almost exactly a year ago that Lawrence was new to campus and Cartersville High School coach Joey King came to Clemson to check in on his young prodigy over burgers and fries.
They sat down, ordered their food and started to eat.
"Six people came up to him," King said of the mania Lawrence had already created without ever having taken a snap at the collegiate level. "He's definitely special. A special player. I think he's a generational talent."
That all came to fruition Monday night at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., exactly 2,567.6 miles away from the ever-popular Clemson sports bar, thanks to Lawrence's performance on college football's grandest stage.
Lawrence, the freshman quarterback who passed for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers' shockingly easy 44-16 victory over Alabama on Monday night, has now entered Clemson lore as the generational arm talent who will largely define this era of Clemson football. He is college football's newest darling and everyone — everyone — wants a piece of him.
But here's the thing:
Nothing about the freshman has changed in the last year.
The same Lawrence who munched on fried food with his high school coach as a quiet 18-year-old then is the same Lawrence who hoisted the national championship trophy as college football's most exciting freshman phenom at age 19.
The Trevor Lawrence who signed autographs after high school practices for people from as far away as Ohio is the same guy who was sprawled on the locker room floor celebrating after Monday's championship game.
And the same Lawrence who just 10 months ago was accompanying his girlfriend to their prom is the same Lawrence who casually accepted the championship's Offensive MVP Award, four months after he dethroned former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant and catalyzed Bryant's transfer.
The difference is, only now the whole world is getting to meet Lawrence.
"I really started studying him his sophomore year in high school," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "That first spring ... I mean, he got Day 1 like that. It was like fish to water, just natural. I knew pretty early that this kid — he's unique."
Behind his long blond locks (the secret, Lawrence said, is lots of patience during the awkward growth period and plenty of Pantene shampoo), Lawrence is most nationally known for his poise under pressure — a trait his mother, Amanda, said he inherited from his father, Jeremy.
Jeremy has always been calm in any circumstance thrown his way, as well, and Lawrence isn't the only superstar in his household, which also keeps him grounded. His older brother, Chase, is a magnificent artist/sculptor making a name for himself with his own creative outlet of choice. His younger sister Olivia, still in elementary school, gives her brother an additional sense of purpose when it comes to staying humble.
So nonchalant at times, Lawrence's girlfriend — a soccer player at nearby Anderson University — just last week kindly suggested to her beau that he should sound happier when he speaks, given how many eyes are on him now.
"She was like, 'You should sound excited sometimes when you talk to people.'"
But that's just how he is.
"I was just born that way," Lawrence said with a laugh.
"Trevor is one of the most low-maintenance dudes you will meet," said Swinney. "I know he looks like Hollywood, but he ain’t none of that. I think that’s just his DNA. I think that’s how he’s wired."
When he threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Tee Higgins in the first quarter on third-and-14, then another 37-yard laser to freshman receiver Justyn Ross on third-and-12 later Monday night, Lawrence was simply doing what Lawrence does in the fashion that he does it.
Some NFL executives genuinely believe he could be the No. 1 overall pick today in the NFL Draft, despite the fact that he is not draft eligible for two more years.
But when this is all said and done, Lawrence will head back to Clemson, likely take a fishing trip, maybe play some of his beloved Mad Libs games and grab lunch at the Esso Club.
This time as a national champion.