CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was a finalist for the 90th AAU James E. Sullivan Award, presented Wednesday by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The award is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete. The AAU announced the winners of the award, Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon and Spencer Lee of Iowa.
Lawrence earned the recognition among a list of distinguished finalists that also included Evita Griskenas (rhythmic gymnastics), Grant Holloway (track and field), Markus Howard (men’s basketball), Sabrina Ionescu (women’s basketball), Spencer Lee (wrestling), Dana Rettke (women’s volleyball), Kyla Ross (gymnastics), Megan Taylor (women’s lacrosse) and Abbey Weitzeil (women’s swimming).
Lawrence was looking to be the 10th football player to earn the honor, joining a list that includes some of the sport’s most distinguished names, including Doc Blanchard (1945), Arnold Tucker (1946), Charlie Ward (1993), Peyton Manning (1997), Tim Tebow (2007), Andrew Rodriguez (2011), John Urschel (2013), Ezekiel Elliott (2014) and Keenan Reynolds (2015).
Voting for the award is based on the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism, with the AAU citing the award “goes far beyond athletic accomplishments and honors those who have shown strong moral character.” Lawrence is a two-time All-ACC and All-ACC Academic honoree who has led the Tigers to College Football Playoff National Championship appearance in both of his seasons at Clemson. In addition to his on-field and academic performance, Lawrence has committed time and efforts to the Clemson community, including the organization of a fundraiser to assist those impacted by COVID-19 in his home communities of Cartersville, Ga. and Upstate South Carolina.
The AAU began presenting the award annually to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States in 1930, when golf legend Bobby Jones became the award’s first recipient. Representatives from the AAU created the honor with the intent to recognize amateur contributions and achievements from non-professional athletes across the country, including famed Olympians Michelle Kwan (2001), Michael Phelps (2003), Paul Hamm (2004) and Shawn Johnson (2008); University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (1997), Penn State guard John Urschel (2013); 200-meter backstroke world record-holder Missy Franklin (2012) and University of Wisconsin setter Lauren Carlini (2016).