Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

October 23, 2018 at 9:17 pm.

Clemson’s Lawrence a fast-rising star

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will be making just the fourth start of his career Saturday at Florida State, but he’s grown by leaps and bounds in his rookie campaign.

“He’s not a freshman anymore,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “He’s a more seasoned guy.”

That was evident last week when Lawrence shredded the N.C. State secondary for 308 yards and a touchdown on 26 of 39 passing in a 41-7 romp. His yardage, completions and attempts were career highs and bode well for the Tigers’ offensive potential down the season’s home stretch.

The Tigers are off to a 7-0 start and in solid position for a fourth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championship as well as a fourth straight trip to the College Football Playoff, and Lawrence is a big part of the equation.

“The game has slowed down for him and he’s settling in,” Swinney said. “He’s seen a bunch of (defensive) looks now and it’s unbelievable what we have to prepare for every day against our defense.

“Part of the game is him making plays with his legs and he’s showing he can do that, too. He was running for his life in the spring; now he’s a lot more confident.”

Despite not starting until the fifth game of the season, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Lawrence is only 290 yards short of breaking Clemson’s freshman record for passing yardage set by Deshaun Watson in 2014 and needs just two touchdown passes to break the rookie record of 14 held by Watson.

Lawrence is the top freshman and ranks 10th nationally among FBS quarterbacks in passing efficiency and is 14th in the country with a 68.3 completion percentage.

Already a two-time ACC Rookie of the Week twice this season, Lawrence says he’s appreciative of what has unfolded in his first season at Clemson.

“I’ve thought about how much of a blessing it is for me to be a freshman and be in the situation we’re in and playing for such a good team,” Lawrence said. “We have all these expectations, but we know what we want to do and we set our goals out from the beginning and that just drives us.”