Clemson freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence put together a masterful performance against Alabama and Nick Saban in Monday night’s national championship game to lead the Tigers to a 44-16 victory and a perfect 15-0 season.
Lawrence carved up Alabama’s secondary to the tune of 347 passing yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
It was a performance that was reminiscent of what former Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson did during his two meetings against the Crimson Tide in the national title game.
Watson has watched Lawrence all year and attended Monday’s national championship game in person. He came away more than impressed by what he saw.
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“Man, he’s special,” Watson told The State following Clemson’s victory. “He’s a guy that’s been doing great things ever since he came in and just went to work. He’s been quiet and just kind of put his head down and been grinding.”
Clemson has enjoyed an incredible run of success led by star quarterbacks since the start of the 2011 season.
First it was Tajh Boyd who lifted Clemson’s program to a new level as the Tigers won at least 10 games in all three of Boyd’s years as the starter.
Watson followed Boyd and led Clemson to the College Football Playoff in two of his three seasons, winning the 2016 national title.
Kelly Bryant, who is transferring to Missouri, continued Clemson’s run of success last season as the TIgers reached the College Football Playoff and won the ACC title in 2017.
Lawrence took over as the starting quarterback for Bryant four games into this year, and the Tigers never looked back. Clemson won all 10 of the games that Lawrence started and finished by at least 20 points. Clemson outscored Notre Dame and Alabama by a combined score of 74-19 in two College Football Playoff games as Clemson proved that it is in a league of its own.
Clemson will likely be No. 1 in the 2019 preseason poll as Lawrence and most of the rest of Clemson’s offense returns. Clemson can win its third title in four years next season.
“The reason why I came here was to kind of start a trend and start something special,” Watson said. “Tajh started it before I got here and I wanted to follow his footsteps and take it to another heights. Then Kelly came in and did what he had to do. Now with Trevor it’s his time to continue to build this franchise to another high level. It’s no surprise for me.”
While Lawrence shined during his freshman season, finishing with 3,280 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and four interceptions, he still has plenty of room to improve, according to co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.
That is scary news for the rest of the college football world after Clemson’s dominant performance Monday night.
“He’s still just a freshman. I know people are using that against him and he didn’t play like one, but he’s just going to continue to get better every single day,” Elliott said. “Polishing his craft, continuing to grow mentally, be able to challenge him to handle protections at an even higher level, be able to make run checks. I mean there’s still a ton of room in that ceiling before he reaches his potential.”