Ending months of speculation — even though it was a near certainty — former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was selected No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“Pretty surreal,” Lawrence told ESPN’s Marty Smith on the broadcast after being selected. “Obviously this has been the dream for the past few years. And like I’ve said, I didn’t even dream this as a kid so [it’s] really special and just having all the people that I care about here watching, it’s really hard to explain.”
— NFL (@NFL) April 30, 2021
The 6-foot-6 QB is Mel Kiper Jr.’s fourth highest-graded quarterback prospect ever, behind only John Elway, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Lawrence is the first No. 1 overall pick in Clemson history, after going 34-2 as a starter in three seasons with the Tigers. He threw for 10,098 yards, 90 touchdowns and only 17 interceptions, in addition to rushing for 231 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He’s going to a Jaguars franchise that has lost at least 10 games in nine of the past 10 seasons. After winning their first game in the 2020 season, they closed it by losing 15 straight. When/if the Jags lose a regular-season game next season, it’ll be the first regular-season loss of Lawrence’s life, according to the NFL Network’s James Palmer.
Lawrence will suit up for new Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, who’s making the jump to the NFL after 17 years as a college football coach, winning national championships with Florida and Ohio State. Lawrence’s college coach, Dabo Swinney, believes Meyer will love Lawrence.
“Urban Meyer is going to love this guy,” the Clemson coach said on the Sports Spectrum Draft Special. “He’s going to have all those things he loved about Tim Tebow (whom he coached at Florida), he’s going to have all those same things — that toughness, that grit. But [Lawrence has] just got this elite skill set that you just sit there and you go ‘wow.'”
Swinney also believes the transition to the NFL will be no problem for Lawrence.
“I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, I’ve been around football a long time. This will be the easiest transition of any kid I’ve had,” Swinney said. “He’s been in the spotlight since the ninth grade, he’s been a starter since the ninth grade. … This guy’s been on TV, he’s been on social media, he’s had expectations, he’s been at every 7-on-7 camp. … He’s been the guy with enormous expectations forever. That’s his norm.”
A man of strong faith in Christ, Swinney said Lawrence’s own walk with the Lord is what he admires most about his former QB.
“What I love about him more than anything is he’s faith-driven. He has built his life on a foundation of faith,” Swinney said. “Great mom and dad, great people around him, but he’s strong in his faith now. He’s an inside-out kid in this world of outside-in.
“People are paralyzed by other people’s opinions and what some person says on social media, and all this stuff. He’s not affected by that, he really isn’t. He’s got very thick skin, which you know that’s something that’s very needed if you’re going to go play quarterback in the NFL. Self-motivated, self-driven and he’s going to set the tone the day he shows up. He’s not going to wait on anybody to set the tone for him.”
"Urban Meyer is going to love this guy. He's going to have all those things he loved about Tim Tebow — that toughness, that grit. But he's just got this elite skill set."@ClemsonFB HC Dabo Swinney believes @Trevorlawrencee will make an impact in the NFLhttps://t.co/Npn4rhT4ug pic.twitter.com/OCiNcPqBr5
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) April 29, 2021
Lawrence, who was recently married to his high school sweetheart, has spoken openly about his faith ever since arriving at Clemson. 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. Later that summer, according to Sports Illustrated, 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.
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.”
As he adjusts to the pressure and spotlight of the NFL, Lawrence will aim to keep his life centered on God. That’s the advice his former coach said he’d give Lawrence.
“He’s obviously stepping into a very, very bright light,” Swinney said on the Draft Special. “I’ll tell him just like I tell the team: Don’t ever let the light on you become brighter than the light in you.”
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