Spring 2021 Magazine

Steadied by faith in Christ, QB Trevor Lawrence leads Clemson back to College Football Playoff

The Clemson Tigers were dominant from start to finish in their 34-10 win over Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday, avenging a loss to the Fighting Irish earlier in the season.

The College Football Playoff committee rewarded the 10-1 Tigers the following day by giving them the No. 2 seed in the playoff and a date with No. 3 Ohio State. It will be Clemson’s sixth consecutive appearance in the playoff. Notre Dame also made the playoff as the No. 4 seed, along with No. 1 overall seed Alabama.

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Junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence was once again the star for the Tigers. He torched the Fighting Irish defense to the tune of 412 yards of total offense — 322 yards and two touchdowns through the air, with 90 more yards and another score on the ground.

“It’s just a great moment,” Lawrence told ABC on the field after the game. “This team has just been through a lot this year, obviously with everything going on, the ups and downs, and just to see how steady we’ve been, just kept coming back to work every day.

“It just goes to show how much better you can get throughout the year, and it’s the most important thing who’s playing well at the end of the year. And we’ve gotten so much better. I’m really just proud of this team — just a great overall win.”

Lawrence, widely expected to be the No. 1 pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, has electrified college football since he joined the Tigers as one of the highest-rated quarterback prospects of all time. He took over as the starter midway through his true freshman season in 2018 and led Clemson to a national title. Last year, he led his team back to the National Championship Game but fell to LSU.

This year, Lawrence is once again in the Heisman Trophy conversation despite not playing from Oct. 24 until Nov. 28, missing two games (including the first matchup against Notre Dame) due to a positive COVID-19 test. Lawrence’s head coach, Dabo Swinney, believes his quarterback is deserving of college football’s highest honor.

“It would be a crying shame if the Heisman didn’t attach their name to Trevor Lawrence,” Swinney said from the field during the ACC Championship trophy presentation. “That would be a shame. I know that’s become a stat award but if you watch college football and you don’t know that this is the best player in the country, I don’t know what you’re looking at.”

Swinney has built Clemson into a national powerhouse since he took the reins partway through the 2008 season. He’s led the Tigers to two national championships, in 2016 and 2018 (Lawrence’s freshman season). The Tigers were the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff both times and hope for history to repeat itself in 2020.

During his rise, Swinney has also been one of the most outspoken coaches in the country about his faith in Christ, something he shares with his star quarterback. During Saturday’s ACC Championship Game showdown, Lawrence wrote a Bible verse, Galatians 6:9, on his left wristband.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” — Galatians 6:9

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence wears “Galatians 6:9” on his wrist during the ACC Championship Game.

The public display of his faith on some of college football’s biggest stages is something Lawrence has been known to do before. He wrote “Romans 8:28” on his wrist during last season’s National Championship Game.

As a freshman, before he had even made a name for himself nationally, Lawrence said he was steadied by the knowledge of who he is in Christ.

After Lawrence was named the starter in September 2018, he was asked about his calm demeanor, even in big games.

“That’s just always my personality,” he said at the time. “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 big the situation is, it’s not going to define me.”

Lawrence will lean into his faith as he and his teammates face another College Football Playoff and an opportunity at another national championship. The road begins with the Sugar Bowl against the undefeated Big Ten champions, the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0). The game is set for Friday, Jan. 1, at 8 p.m. ET from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

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