SAN ANTONIO — Win or lose Monday night in the national championship, Clemson will lose its starting quarterback after the game because Deshaun Watson is entering the 2017 NFL draft.
Cartersville (Ga.) junior Trevor Lawrence hopes to be the player who one day steps into Watson’s shoes. Lawrence, the No. 1-rated player overall in the 2018 class, committed to Clemson on Dec. 16.
“Where they’re at now, they’re in a good position and my relationship with their coaches was the best,” Lawrence said. “They were recruiting me for a while, since before my sophomore year.”
When he finally gets to Clemson, he’ll have some competition ahead of him. The Tigers landed two elite senior quarterbacks this season: Chase Brice, who led Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) to a state AAAAAAA title; and Brownsburg (Ind.) quarterback Hunter Johnson, considered by 247Sports.com to be the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 class. Johnson is playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Sunday.
“I’m going to have to compete wherever I go, so I’m not too worried about it,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence, who is 6-6 and 194 pounds, led Cartersville to its second consecutive AAAA state title and was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year. He completed 250 of 406 passes for 3,904 yards and 51 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He needs 2,477 yards and 40 touchdowns to surpass Watson’s career state marks, set at Gainesville (Ga.)
Lawrence was at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Underclassmen Combine on Friday and said he plans to play in next year’s game.
“I want to improve on my speed and strength and decision making,” Lawrence said. “Last year, we threw the ball a little bit more and I threw a couple more picks, so I want to limit that and my footwork is something I can always work on.”
Click the gallery below to see who is playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Sunday: