By: Rajan Nanavati
Three years ago, purchasing a single stock in Amazon would’ve cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 or so. Fast forward to today, and the share price is nearly three times that amount.
What does any of that have to do with college football?
Simple: if you purchase stock in a college football player today, and you’re looking for a guy who would/could become the next Amazon, you should buy up as many shares of Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence as possible.
Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way: Lawrence is off-the-charts talented. In a 2018 college football recruiting class that was absolutely loaded, Lawrence jockeyed with current University of Georgia freshman Justin Fields for the #1 and #1A rankings not only at quarterback, but in the nation overall.
But unlike Fields, who’s likely going to have to settle for rotational spot duty at best for the foreseeable future, the moment Lawrence committed to Clemson, everyone knew it was just a matter of time before he became the team’s starting quarterback.
Sure, Kelly Bryant had led the Tigers to the College Football playoffs (and an opening round loss to Alabama), and sure, there was already another five-star recruit waiting in the wings behind Bryant in Hunter Johnson. But Lawrence’s talent and abilities were obvious right from the get-go.
In what shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, only months after Lawrence officially became a student at the University, Johnson declared his intention to transfer, and headed to the Midwest, enrolling at Northwestern University. That opened up the door for Lawrence to get playing time immediately.
With the Tigers and the Crimson Tide now standing as the two best teams in the nation, it’s somewhat ironic that the situation that the former finds themselves in right now might’ve been based on a precedent set by the latter. Despite the success of the incumbent in Jalen Hurts, Alabama knew that they simply couldn’t suppress the sublime talents of their “other” five-star quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. When the Tide made the switch to Tagovailoa, it unleashed an offense that might have given Nick Saban his best team during his tenure in Tuscaloosa.
Such success had to factor into the mind of Dabo Swinney, when he officially made the decision to bench Bryant in favor of Lawrence. Swinney knew what Bryant could do for them, and more importantly, what he probably couldn’t do for them. And simply put, as a pure quarterback talent, there was just no comparison between Bryant and Lawrence; the former was a nice player, but the latter was seemingly born to be a star quarterback.
Fast forward to today, and Swinney is doing anything but regretting that decision. After getting knocked out of the game against Syracuse, Lawrence has been eviscerating opponents; Clemson has beaten the last three teams they played — all of whom were ACC rivals — by a combined score of 163-20.
If it indeed comes down to Alabama and Clemson again, in the race for college football’s National Championship, the symmetry should give reporters and talking heads a field day’s worth of discussion.
But the simple truth is, if it wasn’t for Tagovailoa’s Heisman-worthy campaign, Lawrence would be the biggest underclassman quarterback story in college football. And if we fast forward even one more year from now, he just might be exactly that by this time next year.