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Sep 18, 2020

Natural-Born Leader

By: Cole Little

Note: The following appears in the The Citadel gameday football program.

“The measure of a man is what he does with his power.” That aphorism from the Athenian philosopher Plato has stood the test of time and for good reason.

The constant defining variable of leaders is how they choose to utilize the power provided by their platforms. Junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence has chosen to use his platform to make an impact far beyond the gridiron, and it has solidified his reputation as one of college football’s most selfless and vital leaders.

“Opportunities have presented themselves as my career has gone on,” said Lawrence of his approach to off-field leadership. “In the process of growing into my platform and becoming who I am, things have come up that have made for great opportunities for me to use my voice for what I believe in, whether that’s supporting my teammates and friends or something as fundamental as wanting to play football and turn that situation around.”

Lawrence recently made his presence heard in what could easily be classified as the strangest offseason in college football history. In the midst of a pandemic that threatened to alter the very fabric of the sport, Lawrence was a vocal proponent for change amidst social unrest and was also instrumental in leading a player campaign to help save the 2020 season.

“I’ve tried to maximize my voice for things that I care about. It’s easy to get consumed by the football world and not care about anything else, so I’ve been trying to have empathy and support my family, friends and teammates the best way I can with the platform I have.”

Generating a bevy of attention and praise for his social media activism that shed light on social inequities, Lawrence was an integral factor behind Clemson football organizing and leading a peaceful demonstration in June that was composed of moving orations on Bowman Field and a display of unity via a march around campus that brought together the football program and other members of the Clemson University family and Clemson community.

“Clemson has given us all the resources we’ve needed and taught us how to lead the right way, so that’s been a big component of that.”

In August, with a number of question marks surrounding the college football slate and speculation running amok that the window for the 2020 season was shutting, Lawrence again used his platform benevolently.

Drawing attention to the widespread desire within the college football community to play this fall, Lawrence was instrumental in the #WeWantToPlay hashtag going viral on social media, with players from around the nation following up on Lawrence’s tweets concerning the benefits of holding a 2020 season with passionate tweets of their own.

Together with teammate and close friend Darien Rencher, who is a senior Tiger running back, Lawrence set up a conference call that was attended by player representatives from every major conference and culminated in Lawrence tweeting out a list of goals and ideals that he and the other players devised with the well-being and growth of college athletics in mind.

Lauded far and wide for their fortitude in the face of adversity, Lawrence, Rencher and the other players were credited with being mature beyond their years and potentially saving the season.

“There have been a lot of opportunities for us to come together and lead in different ways. That has definitely helped. As far as the time we had together … we maximized it.”

Referring to the time spent with his teammates, Lawrence was inspired by the off-field pursuits that he and his teammates undertook in the limited interactions that they were able to have in an offseason defined by social distancing. As a result, Lawrence is eager to turn his attention back to the gridiron, where he aspires to lead the Tigers to their third consecutive national championship game appearance.

There is a chance that 2020 will be Lawrence’s final season in a Tiger uniform. Therefore, he wants to make the most of it while continuing to mold a lasting Clemson legacy for himself.

“I want to leave a legacy that I love the game and sacrificed a lot for the game and my teammates. When people think about me as a football player, the wins, the stats and all of that stuff takes care of itself. I just want people to think of someone who was as committed as anyone on the team and sacrificed a lot for all of the guys around him.”

When it comes to Lawrence, the victories and statistics do speak for themselves. On top of totaling an impressive 7,296 passing yards and 67 touchdowns in just 31 games, Lawrence has garnered numerous accolades and won a multitude of significant games.

Lawrence is most famous, however, for helping lead Clemson to a 15-0 season in 2018 that was capped off by the program’s third national title. For Lawrence, Clemson is more than just a football team or a university. Clemson is a family to Lawrence, and, because of that, he takes extra pride in upholding Clemson values through his success, both on and off the field.

“The family atmosphere is all I’ve felt since arriving. I’ve met some of my best friends, and I have great relationships with my coaches and mentors. There’s no place in the country that molds young adults better than Clemson.”

Fresh off a whirlwind offseason that garnered Lawrence plenty of praise and attention, from his leadership initiatives to his well-publicized engagement to his high school sweetheart, the uber-talented quarterback is ready to get back to work, doing what he does best.

If the Cartersville, Ga., native is indeed going to be measured by what he accomplishes with his power, his Clemson legacy, which is not yet set in stone, is certain to be crafted based upon how he has honed his platform for the greater good and built a reputation for himself as a natural-born leader in all that he takes on.

In the meantime, Lawrence plans to suit up in several more football contests for the Tigers, and the Clemson faithful can rest assured that his desire to compete and win is just as fervent as it has ever been.