When Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence leaves early for the pros in a little over 13 months from now, he will likely be the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
He has prototype size (6-6 220) and a prototype arm, which led Clemson to a national title last season when he was just a true freshman.
This season, Lawrence is completing 68.8% of his passes for 3,172 yards and 34 touchdowns. He has also thrown eight interceptions, but those around the program will tell you those picks — all of which were thrown in the first seven games — were a product of a larger workload being placed on a sophomore’s shoulders.
That heavy workload has paid off because Lawrence has been practically flawless since, completing at least 72% of his passes in each of the last six games.
If Ohio State gives Trevor Lawrence time, he will make every throw possible. He can drop water into a bucket from 50 yards away.
And that’s just one facet of his game.
He has also rushed for 407 yards and seven touchdowns.
“He can run,” said OSU defensive end Chase Young. “When you really study him on film, he’s definitely faster than people think he is. So you have to be prepared for that because he will pull the ball and run. And I think that’s what a lot of people might not know.
“People know so much about his throwing. I mean, he’s accurate, for sure. But he can take the ball down and run. And that’s something, maybe a lot of teams they played this year, maybe weren’t prepared for when they actually played them. But I feel like we’re prepared for that.”
Ohio State is not one of those teams going into the game without understanding the kind of athlete Trevor Lawrence is.
“Well, obviously you have to know that he can do a number of things,” said co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. “He can throw tremendously, but he also can run. He also has a really good running back. He has a lot of things. So we have to do a great job of having some variation.”
The Buckeye defense has gotten a look at Lawrence’s running ability on both film and in their preparation during practice.
“I think we practiced and have done a good job at playing against that on our scout team,” Young said. “Playing against Justin [Fields] all the time in practice, I think that was one of our bigger focuses. And we definitely put emphasis on the quarterback run now. So I think we’re definitely going to be prepared for whatever they are going to throw at us.”
For Chase Young, his job is normally to make sure the quarterback doesn’t throw the ball. But with Lawrence’s skill set, he also knows that he can’t get too out of control on his pass rush.
“Oh definitely, definitely. You always have to have awareness of the quarterback and I think that’s a big key to being a good pass rusher,” he said. “And I’m definitely dialed in and ready for when he might want to take off or, whatever he wants to do. I’m trying to get a prepared as much as I can.”