Fall 2021 SS Magazine

National championship QBs Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa rep Jesus on and off the field

There’s no bigger stage in college football than the national championship.

Trophies are won, names are remembered and careers are forged under the bright lights of the College Football Playoff finale, and there aren’t many lights brighter than those of Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, home to Super Bowl 50 and the San Francisco 49ers. It’s where the NCAA’s two best teams — Nick Saban’s undefeated No. 1 Alabama and Dabo Swinney’s undefeated No. 2 Clemson — will meet Monday night for a shot at title glory.

Yet neither star quarterback in this week’s culminating championship is playing for the lights, the glory, the trophy or even the career each of them promise.

Is Tua Tagovailoa determined to bring the Crimson Tide its second straight title and third in four years? Absolutely. Is Trevor Lawrence determined to bring the Tigers their second title in three years? Absolutely.

But both Lawrence and Tagovailoa are probably known as much for their off-field humility as their on-field dominance. The former, who unseated senior Kelly Bryant as a freshman this season, has gone public making it clear he values his dependence on Jesus Christ more than anything else. And Tagovailoa, who professed his faith in Christ upon leading the Tide to a national championship win in January 2018, has repeatedly done the same.

“I put my identity in what Christ says, who He thinks I am and who I know that He says I am,” Lawrence said earlier this season. “Football’s important to me, but it’s not my life. It’s not the biggest thing in my life. I would say my faith is. That just comes from knowing who I am outside of that. No matter how the big the situation is, it’s not going to define me.”

Tagovailoa, meanwhile, admitted early in the season that he and fellow Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins swap Bible verses to encourage each other’s faith. And the 2018 national championship wasn’t the first or the last time he’s recognized his relationship with Christ as priority No. 1 in his life.

The offensive MVP of last year’s title game, Tagovailoa enters Monday night with 41 touchdown passes and just four interceptions on his sophomore season. Like Lawrence, who’s thrown 27 touchdowns and five picks after taking over as Clemson’s starter in September, he already figures to be a top NFL prospect come 2019 or 2020.

Monday night, the two young signal-callers will face off, both representing Jesus and both vying for the prize of the College Football Playoff National Championship trophy. Alabama and Clemson kick off at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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