SAN JOSE, Calif. — Trevor Lawrence got a text message last week after he seamlessly led Clemson past Notre Dame 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl and when he looked down at his cell phone, he noticed it was from a familiar face he will see again Monday night.
Miller Forristall, the Alabama redshirt tight end who was Lawrence's high school teammate in Cartersville, Ga., wanted to know how he felt. After playing with one another at Cartersville, they are now set to play against one another Monday night in the national championship between the Tigers and Crimson Tide.
'"How was the Notre Dame game? How are you feeling? Are you ready?' Forristall asked. "Just that kind of thing."
The two friends still talk once a week after Lawrence beat out Forristall for the starting quarterback job at Cartersville, with Forristall ultimately deciding to switch over to the tight end position.
Having known Lawrence since he was a freshman in high school, Forristall has a perspective on Clemson's quarterback that most do not, and he was happy to share some of that Saturday morning ahead of Monday's matchup. He saw Lawrence when he was still a raw prodigy teenager starting to turn heads with how dynamic his arm is.
Nothing has changed in that regard, said Forristall, who explicitly told his Alabama teammates about how elite of a football player Lawrence is and the skillset he has.
"It was cool. You could tell he was going to be a star. Even when he stepped out as a freshman, people were like, 'That kid's going to be good.' And I'm like, 'No. That kid is going to be like — real good. It was cool to kind of be there and watch him develop and grow up," Forristall said.
"I knew a couple times where he’d throw a ball and I’d look at the coaches and they’d look at me and they would tell kids, our starting defense in high school, ‘Don’t worry. No one else can do that, so don’t worry about that. He’ll get you. Nobody else can do that, so don’t worry.’”
No word on Christian Miller
Alabama linebacker Christian Miller injured his hamstring in the Orange Bowl last week against Oklahoma and is still questionable for Monday night against the Tigers. Miller is an elite pass rusher and has 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He was coy about his status, and coach Nick Saban simultaneously indicated no decision had been made.
"Christian Miller is questionable for the game," Saban said. "He hasn't been able to do a lot in practice. We'll sort of see what he can do (in practice Friday) and sort of further evaluate his circumstance and see if he can be effective enough to contribute in a game."
Dabo happy to be in California
It didn't take long to get Clemson coach Dabo Swinney going Saturday morning at Clemson's media day. In fact, all it took was a reporter asking him if he was excited for the game. Then, Swinney took off about a tumbleweed and made reporters laugh with his mini-tangent about how happy he was to be out west.
"Oh yeah, this is — I just saw my first tumbleweed. I've never seen a tumbleweed in my entire life. We don't have tumbleweeds in Alabama or South Carolina. We're coming down the road on a bus and this huge, like, ball of sticks, that's the only way I can (describe it) — just comes right at the bus," Swinney said. "I thought those were just in like, Roadrunner of the movies or something.
"(Friday) was beautiful, so to land and to see all the mountains, just the beauty that this area has to offer, especially flying in, we got to see the snowcapped mountains and then all of a sudden there was no snow, and then it was flat, and then it looked like Mars with moguls, and then it was farmland. It was just like all this unique terrain coming out here. Just a fascinating country and world that we live in."