CLEMSON— Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney has some advice for his Heisman Trophy frontrunner quarterback Trevor Lawrence: If you want to be able to go out in public, “shave his head he might blend in a little bit more.”
But the Tigers’ long-haired rising sophomore quarterback is not shunning his fame or notoriety after leading the Tigers to their second national title in three seasons, instead he is embracing his newfound fame.
“Hopefully I can use it for good,” Lawrence said. “It’s just crazy now everywhere I go – all the people that come up to me and just want to talk. It’s cool having that platform. It can be a lot if you don’t know how to use it and you’re not ready for it, but I think that I have learned over the past few months how to use it, and using it in the right way and being careful of what I’m doing.
“I’m really being cautious. Like I said, I just want to use it in the right way and hopefully encourage it.”
However, a couple of weeks ago his notoriety got the best of him during an intramural basketball game.
During the game, a player from the opposing team set a screen on Lawrence some 80-feet from the basket—a screen which Lawrence did not take kindly to.
In retaliation for the screen, Lawrence shoved the opposing player to the ground and the referee’s had to stop the game.
However, as is the case with everything, Lawrence is learning how to handle things as the face of college football.
“I think everything is just a learning experience,” Lawrence said. “You could say you wished you handled something differently, and I do, but like you said, everyone’s watching and I should be smarter that. At the end of the day, we’re playing a game and it gets competitive. Me and him shook hand at the end of the game.
“It gets blown out of proportion, but I have to know, just because it’s me it’s going to get put out everywhere and made a big deal of. I just need to be smarter than that.”
Now that football has started back for the Tigers, the focus has shifted from the hardwood to defending their national title.
With Las Vegas pegging Lawrence as a favorite to win the Heisman and with the Tigers the odds-on favorite to win the national title again this season, the expectations for the Tiger program have never been as high.
But the 2019 Tigers are not focused on living up to the outside expectations, instead they are focused on themselves.
“I think that the only expectations you only need to focus on are the ones you have for yourself and the ones that the team has as a whole,” Lawrence said. “We’re just trying to block out all the expectations that other people put on us because this is a different team.
“People are going to say that we’re not as good this year, and people are going to expect us to do a lot of great things, too – so, I think just blocking that out and staying true to who we are and what are goals are is going to be really important.”