No, Jacksonville, that wasn't a fever dream. Trevor Lawrence is the newest quarterback and leader of the Jacksonville Jaguars and he has officially touched down in Jacksonville to begin working toward building a winning football team.
Lawrence held his first press conference in Jacksonville on Friday, the first in what will likely be countless media briefings he holds inside TIAA Bank Field. What did we learn from his first public comments in Jacksonville and what could it all mean moving forward?
What Trevor Lawrence's favorite Travis Etienne play is
Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne's reunion in Jacksonville was one of the highlighted stories of this year's first round. The duo was one of the most electric pair of playmakers in college football in Clemson's backfield the last three seasons. It is the first time in the common draft era that a quarterback and a running back from the same school were selected in the first round by the same team, making the Jaguars' selections of the Tigers stars that much more historical.
Lawrence will know exactly who Etienne is and how he can help him as a quarterback; Etienne knows exactly who Lawrence is as a leader and passer and already has chemistry with him as a receiver and on handoffs. The two coming together in Jacksonville is notable for all of these reasons, with the Jaguars hoping the duo combines for even more touchdowns over the next four seasons in Jacksonville than they did for Clemson during its dominant run. For Lawrence himself, he will be hoping to see Etienne recreate some of the franchise quarterback's favorite plays from the running back's record-breaking career.
"Oh there’s a lot. Obviously, we played together for three years. There’s a whole lot of memories and he made a ton of plays. I hate to say it in front of Coach [Meyer], but he had two plays against Ohio State that were pretty special," Lawrence laughed when asked about his favorite play from Etienne.
"So, got a little ‘dub’ pass to him and then threw a screen to him—what like 50 yards. So, he's just special. Not only as a player, but as a person. So, I’m just really glad I get to have a former teammate come along with me on this new journey.”
The Jaguars still don't have an update on playing games in London in 2021
One of the quietest but potentially most impactful storylines surrounding Lawrence and his arrival to the Jaguars is the potential he has to be one of the NFL's first international superstars. Before Lawrence's arrival, the Jaguars were an annual fixture overseas, playing an annual home game in London since 2013. The Jaguars were set to play two home games in London in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the NFL's international series last season.
But will Lawrence and his talented right arm be throwing darts all over Wembley Stadium in 2021? The answer from Jaguars' owner Shad Khan, we learned on Friday, is simply one that states to wait and see. With the Jaguars having nine home games in 2021 due to the NFL's new 17-game schedule, the question has been raised about just how many of those games will be played in front of Jacksonville's loyal fan base in Florida.
"I think really there’s no update. I think as soon as we have it, we’ll share with you," Khan said when asked about London games in 2021.
"I’m not even sure if there’ll be games [in London], but May 12 is the schedule [release day]. Hopefully we’ll know a little bit before that.”
Lawrence's recovery from shoulder surgery is "ahead of schedule"
While Trevor Lawrence is a lock to be the Jaguars' starting quarterback in Week 1, he still has to get his non-throwing shoulder healthy enough to hit the field. A big reason Lawrence had a quiet draft process was because he held his pro day on February 12 due to his labrum injury and impending surgery; getting the surgery earlier in the offseason meant he would be on the field sooner than later when it came to training camp.
As such, one of the biggest questions with Lawrence now that he is officially on the Jaguars' roster and in the hands of Urban Meyer, Darrell Bevell, Trent Baalke and the rest of the Jaguars' leadership is when he will be ready to hit the field and be completely cleared. It will come sooner than later, however, according to what Lawrence revealed.
"Health-wise, I’m feeling really good. I don’t know what percentage I’d be, I don’t even know how to gauge that, but I’m on track. I’m actually a little ahead of schedule, so I’m expecting to be back whenever we get started. [I’m] really ready for that, like I said, to be a part of a team again," Lawrence said.
"As far as the logistics of getting here and all that stuff, I haven’t figured it out exactly yet, have to find a spot to stay in first. I’m trying to figure that out. Obviously, there’s a lot of moving parts, but no matter where I’m at, I’m going to start working out here Monday and get back to my normal routine.”
Why Lawrence felt like Jacksonville was the right fit
Often times when a player gets drafted by a team, they say the typical phrase of "this is where I wanted to go the whole time." There 32 teams so this more than often is just lip service provided in the aftermath of the greatest moment of that player's career, so it isn't always true. With that said, it certainly seemed like Lawrence held some genuine sentiments when he talked about why he felt Jacksonville was the right fit for him, even if the Jaguars were drafting him no matter the fit.
Lawrence doesn't come off as a person who is especially enamored with being a celebrity or having his every single move magnified. That will still happen in Jacksonville, of course, but not to the same degree as it would in other markets. Add in Lawrence's seemingly natural relationship with Meyer and Khan, and it isn't hard to see why he thought Jacksonville was always the spot he was best fit for.
"I think obviously because all these guys up here, the whole coaching staff that I’ve gotten a chance to talk a little bit with, and then the community, all of those things. It’s kind of close to home which obviously nice. It’s just a bonus," Lawrense said when asked why he saw Jacksonville as a good fit.
"Obviously, you don’t know a place until you get there, and it’s been special since I’ve been here today, so [I’m] really excited to learn more about it and really be a part of the community and just to go to work. I’m excited that I’m here and I’m officially a part of a team now. It’s kind of a weird period going from you’re on a team your whole life and you have this period before the draft, where you’re kind of just working to get better, but you’re not a part of the team and I miss that, so [I’m] just excited for that.”
Why Lawrence is excited for the draft process to finally end
Trevor Lawrence didn't have a draft process like many others. He was a rare unanimous prospect who has always been projected to go No. 1 overall; there was never any doubt about where he would be drafted, which staff would take the leap with him, or who his new teammates would be. But Lawrence did endure the same points of the process that many others reach; a longing to be back on a team.
Just think, Lawrence has been a part of a team at Clemson for over three years. Then multiple years of high school before that. Other than the months in between the draft and his final game with Clemson, Lawrence had always been a part of a team -- a stark contrast from the isolated journey that is known as the draft process.
"I’m excited that I’m here and I’m officially a part of a team now. It’s kind of a weird period going from you’re on a team your whole life and you have this period before the draft, where you’re kind of just working to get better, but you’re not a part of the team and I miss that, so [I’m] just excited for that," Lawrence said.