Fall 2021 SS Magazine

QB Trevor Lawrence leads Clemson back to national championship game, guided by Scripture

Clemson has yet to lose a game since quarterback Trevor Lawrence joined the team — a 29-game streak that continued in incredible fashion Saturday night in the Fiesta Bowl, also known as the College Football Playoff semifinals. No. 3 Clemson defeated No. 2 Ohio State, 29-23, largely due to the arms and legs of Lawrence.

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The sophomore QB threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, while also rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown. His 34-yard pass to running back Travis Etienne with 1:49 left in the game proved to be the winning score:

After falling behind 16-0, Lawrence’s 67-yard TD run made it a tight game, 16-14, just before halftime:

The victory sends defending-champion Clemson into the national championship game for the fourth time in five years. The Tigers lost the 2015-16 title to Alabama, but defeated ‘Bama in 2016-17 and last season. They’ll face No. 1 LSU on Jan. 13 in New Orleans for the 2019-20 crown. LSU throttled Oklahoma 63-28 in Saturday’s other semifinal.

After taking down Ohio State, Lawrence was interviewed by ESPN on the field. A follower of Christ, he answered by paraphrasing Ephesians 3:20, which was written on his left wristband.

“Just the fight of this team — didn’t play great, didn’t look pretty, but [we] just find a way to get it done,” he said on the broadcast. “I wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else. I have Ephesians 3:20, and it says, ‘God can do immeasurably more than any of us can because of Him within us.’ And that’s just so true. I mean, all of us, me, what we did tonight, it ain’t us. It’s about this program and who we are.”

Since joining the program, Lawrence has started 25 of 29 games, winning all of them. He thew for 3,280 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions in 15 games (11 starts) last season, setting Clemson freshman records in passing yards, passing touchdowns and wins as a starting QB. He also helped Clemson become the first major college football team in the modern era to go 15-0, and was the first true freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national title since 1985.

The expectations were high entering this season, and while he didn’t win major individual awards, he was still impressive: 3,172 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, eight interceptions, 77 carries, 407 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns (all prior to bowl season).

In fact, the expectations for Lawrence were high as he entered college. He left Cartersville High School in Georgia as the No. 1 prospect in the nation by many recruiting services, and he enrolled at Clemson early, in January 2018. The pressure and newfound freedom of being away at college led Lawrence to make some “not good decisions,” according to Sports Illustrated.

But in the summer of 2018, he went on a retreat called “The Gauntlet” to Daytona Beach, Fla., with South Carolina’s NewSpring Church. On that retreat, Lawrence told Sports Illustrated, he “was truly saved.” He discovered his identity in Christ.

“I don’t think anyone has abilities for no reason,” Lawrence told Sports Illustrated. “I don’t think anything is coincidence. God gave me these things for a reason, not just talent on the field, but other opportunities to be a light to people.”

Soon after he returned from Daytona Beach, Lawrence began to prepare for his freshman season. As his football talent began to show and the media began to learn more about him, Lawrence reaffirmed where his identity lies.

“I put my identity in what Christ says, who He thinks I am and who I know that He says I am,” he said in September 2018. “Like I said, it really does not matter what people think of me or how good they think I play. That does not really matter. That has been a big thing for me, in my situation, just knowing that and having confidence in that.”

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