In March of 2018, Trevor Lawrence enjoyed a relaxing night out at his high school’s senior prom. Now, ten months later, he is getting his finger fitted for an NCAA National Championship ring. Clemson’s 6’5 19-year-old quarterback took the college football world by storm this past season, and he’s here to stay. While he may have been one of the top quarterbacks in the country this year, he is not eligible to enter the NFL draft until 2021, two years from now.
Lawrence shook things up so much his freshman year that he forced Kelly Bryant, the team’s former starting quarterback, and national champion, to enter the transfer portal halfway through the season. Bryant recently announced that he would be attending the University of Missouri, and assuming a starting role following the school’s former starter Drew Lock, who is projected to go in the first round of the NFL Draft this year.
During Lawrence’s senior year in high school, he was heavily recruited, earning five stars and being ranked as the #1 pro-style quarterback in the country. After signing with Clemson, Lawrence gained quite the presence on campus, lighting up the field in Clemson’s spring games while he was still a high school student. This past season, Lawrence threw for over 300 yards five separate times, twice against conference opponents and twice in the playoff, leading the 2018-19 Clemson Tigers to the first 15 win season in college football history, out of any team.
Lawrence’s play signifies not only a feel-good tale of a kid that young succeeding at that high of a level, but also the recent spike in talent through true freshman players at the Division 1 level. The concept that 18 and 19-year-olds can compete against seasoned juniors and seniors indicates an upward trend in both the talent level and NFL readiness of players right out of high school. While Trevor Lawrence may seem like an anomaly as of now, every year there will be more and more underclassmen succeeding at that level.