Clemson's Lawrence Reflects on Last Trip to GT

Brad Senkiw

Trevor Lawrence has thrown exactly 922 passes in his college career. 

Several of those throws have been on highlight reels on the biggest stage, but one in particular still stands out to this day. 

It occurred on Sept. 22, 2018, at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Lawrence, then the backup, was looking at a second-and-8 situation at the Georgia Tech 17-yard line. After the snap, the right-handed QB rolled to his left and threw an absolute dart in between two defenders and into the hands of Hunter Renfrow. 

It was placed in a spot only his receiver could catch it, and he did for a touchdown. Lawrence went on to throw three more scores and completed 13 of his 18 passing attempts en route to a 49-21 victory while also unseating Kelly Bryant as the starting quarterback. 

"I knew I was gonna have a few opportunities to play and just wanted to be ready," Lawrence said earlier this week. "I went in at some point in the first quarter. Just was ready, that's all. I knew the game plan, been studying and just did whatever I could, took what they gave me and ended up playing a really good game."

Lawrence reflected on that trip to Atlanta two years ago because he's going back there Saturday at noon to take on the Yellow Jackets again. It was really the birth of his career. His "good game" gave Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney no other option but to make the true freshman at the time the starter over a senior. The offense simply played better with Lawrence in the game. 

That's something that Lawrence still thinks about to this day.

"It was crazy, mixed emotions for me for sure," he said. "Obviously I was happy. It was something that I'd worked for and was hoping would happen eventually, but also...Kelly was one of my friends." 

For Lawrence, it was a tough moment because of that. He knew he had done his job, but he did so well, he had to watch Bryant not only lose the starting job but then transfer out of the program the next week. 

"We were close so it's a weird situation because you know you know how long he's been here how hard he's worked and what he's done to help this team, and the year before," Lawrence said. "I just went to work. So when whenever they named me a starter, I knew that that was just the beginning I still had a lot of work to do but it's definitely a kind of a weird situation when that happens."

It worked out well for both Lawrence and the Tigers, who went 15-0 and won the national championship in 2018. He's gone on to throw for more than 8,000 career passing yards and 76 touchdown passes. 

Lawrence is thrilled to get back to Atlanta this week. The stadium is about 45 minutes from his hometown of Cartersville, Ga., and while there might not be as many friends and family in the stands as last time because of COVID-19 restrictions, it's still an opportunity for him to remember that game and build upon his legacy. 

The junior is 29-1 as a starter, and he'll join Rodney Williams, Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson as the only quarterbacks in Clemson history to reach 30 if the No. 1 Tigers (4-0) get the win over Georgia Tech (2-2) in the place it all started for Lawrence. 

"I'm excited to go back," Lawrence said. "It's kind of like a home game for me."