Matthew Emmons via USA TODAY Sports

Who is Trevor Lawrence? The College Football Phenom Causing NFL Teams to Consider "Tanking"

Sports

| LAST UPDATE 08/09/2022

By Ray Zhang

"You play to win the game," former New York Jets coach Herm Edwards once famously said. Indeed, losing is the worst thing that can happen to an NFL team. Why then are franchises considering losing games on purpose to draft Trevor Lawrence? His résumé comes just once in a generation.

Early Years in the South

Though he was raised near the small town of Cartersville, Georgia, Trevor Lawrence has Tennesseean roots. He was born on October 6, 1999, in Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee Volunteers. It didn't take long for Vols football to become a way of life for Trevor.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@BryanDFischer via Twitter

Starting when he was just 3 years old, Trevor would join his dad Jeremy every Saturday to watch hours of SEC football. They would soon make the almost three-hour drive to Neyland Stadium together to cheer on the Vols in real-life. Peyton Manning, who led Tennessee to a national championship in 1997, was Trevor's idol.

Sharing the Spotlight With His Siblings

As the middle child of three kids, Trevor has a deep love for his family. He has an older brother named Jeremy and a much younger sister named Olivia. Their mom is Amanda. Can you tell Trevor and Jeremy are brothers? Just look at their identical flowing locks! (Not quite the same facial hair situation, though.)

Jeremy & Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomJeremy & Trevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@edsbs via Twitter

Jeremy is more passionate about art and music than athletics, so most of the sporting accolades were collected by Trevor. In the fifth grade, he was already crafting jaw-dropping highlight reels, leading his youth Acworth Warriors team to a perfect 15-0 season while throwing for 1102 yards and 22 touchdowns. Only warming up!

"I Knew He Was Legit"

Knowing how dominant "Crazy Legs" Lawrence – a nickname his grandfather gave him after seeing him swiftly evade tacklers – was on the football field at 10 years old, it's unsurprising to hear how he beat out a junior for the starting quarterback spot at Cartersville High School during his freshman year.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

Miller Forristall, who was supposed to be the school's star QB, recalled his thoughts prior to seeing Trevor play in practice: "How good could he be?" He went on to say, "I saw him throw one ball and I knew he was legit." Forristall later switched to tight end and earned a scholarship to play for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

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Not Your Average High Schooler

Excelling at both basketball and football, Trevor was nothing short of a high school stand-out. Over his varsity career on the field, he threw for nearly 14,000 yards, while scoring 161 touchdowns. He even broke Deshaun Watson's state record in these categories. To make a long story short, the guy put up crazy numbers.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

Of course, Trevor garnered all sorts of awards, including USA Today’s High School All-American and Player of the Year in his senior year of 2017, as well as the Hall Trophy for the U.S Army Player of the Year, which is arguably like the high school equivalent to the NCAA Heisman Trophy. Elite achievements across the board.

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More Than a Football Player

Most people only think of Trevor as an outstanding football player. But the 21-year-old views himself as something much more: a devout Christian. One of the most striking examples of his faith is his back-to-back attendance at the week-long NewSpring Church spiritual retreat aka "The Gauntlet" in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

Trevor told Sports Illustrated that he "experienced" God's realness for the first time circa 2018, culminating in an emotional final ceremony that brought him to tears. He now believes that God gave him his talents "for a reason, not just talent on the field, but other opportunities to be a light to people."

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Meeting His Loyal Girlfriend Marissa

Besides God, football, family and friends, the other crucial element of Trevor's life is his longtime girlfriend – spoiler alert: his new fiancée – Marissa Mowry. They went on their first date in eighth grade and dated on and off for several years after. However, the two have had their rough patches.

Marissa Mowry & Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomMarissa Mowry & Trevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

When Trevor left for college, he and Marissa called it quits. Yet that same Christianity camp was what made him realize, "He wasn't the man he wanted to be," according to his girl. They'd eventually start seeing one another again, though their $3 bowling dates aren't the same – people are always asking for pictures.

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Hanging Up on Alabama's Nick Saban

Being a five-star recruit and the No. 1 prospect in the country, you can bet every major college was trying to convince Trevor to join their program. He received offers from the Florida Gators, Oklahoma Sooners and his beloved Tennessee Vols. Some say Trevor was one of the most sought-after high school QBs of all-time.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

One story summarizes how truly desperate people were to sign him. Most players would toss everything to the side to talk shop with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, a six-time national champion. But to Trevor, Saban's pitch was only making him late for a team meeting. He stopped the legendary coach short and told him he had to go!

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Taking Over the Clemson Tigers

At the end of his junior season, less than a week after leading Cartersville to their second consecutive state title, Trevor finally made his highly-anticipated college decision. Coach Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers from South Carolina had earned his heart and trust. His announcement on Dec. 15, 2016, was straight to the point.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

He was probably growing tired of all of the fans, scouts and media bugging him about where he was going to continue his playing career. "After a long and thoughtful process, I'm blessed to announce that I am committed to Clemson University #ALLIN," a screenshot of an Apple Notes statement read. Nothing would ever be the same.

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Never Backing Down From a Challenge

During one of Trevor’s first practices, he ran right into a hard sack while rolling to the right to make a throw. Despite quarterback contact being off-limits, coaches purposely didn’t raise an issue, as the team leaders wanted to remind Trevor that his prior accomplishments didn’t matter anymore.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

Well, the young hotshot responded by standing up seemingly unfazed, gathering the offense and on the next play, going to the right once more. But this time he threw a 30-yard lightning bolt across his body for a completion, proving he’s as talented and resilient as they come at the position.

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A True Freshman Sensation

Freshman year at Clemson for Trevor started similar to many other players across Division I football. He was on the bench behind the starter Kelly Bryant. Yet Trevor's time as a true freshman would quickly transform into something that had never been seen before in college football.

Ralph Freso via Getty Images

Both Trevor and Bryant were allotted equal playing time during the team's first four games. Then, Swinney had seen enough, naming Trevor the No. 1 option. (Bryant didn't waste any time transferring schools.) Clemson went undefeated in the regular season, culminating in a legendary national championship versus Alabama.

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Like Goldilocks

Before we break down the unforgettable matchup with 'Bama, let's discuss something far more important: Trevor's flowing blonde mane. You don't often see players, especially quarterbacks, with such glorious hairstyles. But then again, this 6'6" phenom isn't your typical talent.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

On the field and in interviews, he loves to flip his golden locks, making sure his face isn't covered. Trevor's lengthy lettuce has even earned its own Twitter account (@TLawHair) and a #gowiththeflow hashtag. The secret to maintaining the signature look? "Pantene [shampoo]," he revealed in a press conference. So simple!

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What's This "Baby Whisperer" Thing?

Among his skills is that Trevor is oddly good with babies, according to close friend and teammate Darien Rencher, who calls him a "baby whisperer." Apparently, infants going through various meltdowns have been handed to Trevor and suddenly, the child ceases crying and begins laughing and smiling instead.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
Via Rooted Gypsy

It’s still a mystery as to why Trevor has this unique influence, but Rencher’s best theory about his buddy's hidden warmth is that he believes babies may actually view Trevor as a motherlike figure due to, of course, his extra-long hair. What a plot twist that would be!

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Trevor's TikTok Twin

Thanks to TikTok, Trevor unexpectedly found out that he had a female doppelgänger. (Guess that whole looking like a mom thing wasn't too far-fetched!) 16-year-old Bella Martina made a viral video comparing her face to Trevor's after she was told by a friend’s brother that she looked very similar to the QB.

Trevor Lawrence & Bella Martina, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence & Bella Martina, College Phenom
@ClemsonInsider via Twitter

The clip, originally published to Martina's over 90k TikTok followers, eventually made its way to Trevor's eyes. He joined the fun, recording a side by side video duet capturing his shocked reaction, only further certifying the pair's uncanny resemblance. They later snapped a photo together before a fall 2019 Clemson game. Twins!

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Taking His Faith to the Next Level

As mentioned earlier, Trevor has always been involved in the church. Prior to his first college season, however, the young man realized he was straying away from his values. The pressures of the upcoming season began to weigh heavily on top of uncertainty with his girlfriend Marissa. Uh-oh.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

Trevor hit an emotional rock bottom. Thankfully, those around him at the NewSpring retreat were able to help him prioritize his Christian faith, therefore easing his worries. About a month later, Trevor decided to get baptized in front of his family and a few teammates. The following week, he made his Clemson debut.

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"We Are the Champions, My Friends!"

A true freshman battling against the Crimson Tide, the most unforgiving defense in the country? Attempting to topple almighty Alabama and Nick Saban, the coach he had previously hung up on back in high school? The odds were stacked against "Crazy Legs" Lawrence and Clemson heading into the 2018-19 NCAA title showdown.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
Matthew Emmons via USA TODAY Sports

Yet somehow, they overcame. Not only did they win, but they dominated 44-16, handing 'Bama their biggest loss since Saban had taken the helm. Trevor went off, tallying 347 passing yards and 3 TDs with zero interceptions. In the process, he became the first true freshman QB in over 30 years to start for a national champion!

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When He Realized His Life Had Changed Forever

Upon returning to campus as the new king of college football, Trevor would quickly discover that his life and reputation had changed for good. Can you imagine being a 19-year-old freshman and reaching the pinnacle of college sports? Plus, Clemson had only enjoyed two national championships ever.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
Christian Petersen via Getty Images

Trevor told ESPN that he realized his daily life would never be the same when he went back to school and "tried to live my life the same way I did before I left." He described the love from fans and students as "just crazy," adding, "I kind of had to change the way I went about my business." This next moment would really test him.

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Causing Trouble in Intramural Basketball

With extra attention comes extra responsibility, and it didn't take long for Trevor to be pushed to the edge by a fellow undergrad during a game of intramural basketball. Playing alongside several teammates from the football team, Trevor blindly ran into a hard screen, leading him to shove his opponent to the floor.

Sean M. Haffey via Getty Images

While the clip went viral, Trevor wasn't too concerned about what (or who) went down, claiming, "I didn't think it was that bad. It's just basketball." Still, the incident allowed him to witness how fast a story can spread online. Trevor's team eventually brought home another championship, this time for intramurals!

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Tough Campaign to Defend the National Title

You may be under the impression that Trevor Lawrence is nearly unstoppable. Heading into his sophomore year, many football fans felt the same way, as the reigning champ was being pinned as the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Unfortunately, the dreaded "sophomore slump" reared its ugly head.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
Ralph Freso via Getty Images

Following inconsistent play at the beginning of the season, Trevor refocused and willed his Tigers to a second consecutive undefeated regular season, an ACC conference title and an appearance in the College Football Playoff, where Clemson would take down Ohio State 29-23. Once again, they could almost taste the trophy.

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Lawrence Takes a Rare L

The 2020 CFP Championship Game featured a battle of the nation's two top Tigers: the Clemson Tigers and the LSU Tigers, which were ranked No. 1 and led by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, who was coming off an eight-touchdown semifinal performance. Unfortunately for Clemson, they didn't stand a chance.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
Kevin C. Cox via Getty Images

Beaten decidedly by a score of 42-25, Clemson's 29-game winning streak came to an end and Trevor was handed his first career college loss. Making matters worse, the then 20-year-old QB had zero touchdowns and posted the worst passer rating of his career. "Adversity teaches and shows you who you really are," he later wrote.

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Getting Engaged on the Gridiron

Thankfully, to ease Trevor's low of lows, there was an unforgettable high around the corner. During the summer of 2020, he asked his girlfriend Marissa to take his hand in marriage. Fittingly, the proposal happened at midfield of Clemson's Memorial Football Stadium aka "Death Valley."

Marissa Mowry & Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomMarissa Mowry & Trevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

In an Instagram post, Marissa admitted the proposal made for the "easiest YES" of her life. She also thought she was dreaming, commenting, "Someone pinch me." Trevor expressed his thoughts via two simple sentences: "You’re everything I’ve dreamed of. I love you and can’t wait to marry you." Aww.

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Struggles on the Golf Course

Though Trevor is clearly elite on the gridiron, his exceptional skill doesn't exactly translate to other fields, most notably the golf course. In fact, his friends tease him about how he could use some practice. Former Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow went as far as to say, "He's probably the worst golfer I’ve ever seen."

Hunter Renfrow & Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomHunter Renfrow & Trevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

According to Renfrow, Trevor often frustrates his golfing partners due to the bizarre amount of practice swings and hair adjustments he takes before each official swing. "So he'll take 45 minutes and he'll shank it to the right," Renfrow claims. "And it's like, 'You could have done that in three seconds!'"

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How He Motivated a Sick Child to Stay Strong

Even with all of his daily commitments, from being a future NFL first-round draft pick (we'll get to that soon) to being named one of 10 NCAA student-athletes nominated for the AAU's prestigious James E. Sullivan Award, Trevor still finds the time to show up for those who need him. Such was the case with little Brody Parker.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

Brody is from Cartersville and has been a fan of Trevor's ever since the latter's high school days. Sadly, Brody was diagnosed with heart failure when he was just 9 years old. While stuck in the hospital, Trevor paid him a visit, hung out for a few hours and prayed by his side. A month later, Brody received a new heart!

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Forever a Hometown Hero

Cartersville has a population of roughly 20,000, per the 2010 census. On Friday nights during Trevor's senior year in high school, you could add a few extra thousand to that number. In fact, one local burger joint called Capri enjoyed a nearly 40 percent increase in business on gamedays, highlighting Lawrence's economic lift.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
@tlawrence16 via Instagram

Back home, Trevor is nothing short of a celebrity. Sports Illustrated writes that he's "tailed around this town like a movie star in Los Angeles." (It's hard to miss his one of a kind look.) Whenever he returns, people jump at the chance to sneak a picture with their hometown hero, whether he's on the street or at a Waffle House.

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Why His Idol Peyton Manning Left Him Starstruck

There was only one quarterback who captured the imagination of Trevor Lawrence when he was a young boy throwing the football around the backyard: legendary quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning captained Trevor's favorite team, the Tennessee Volunteers, to their sixth national championship in 1998.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
Tom Pennington via Getty Images

Though Trevor wasn't even born at that time, Manning's impact on him runs deep. Trevor finally met his sports idol circa summer 2019 at the Manning Passing Academy and was reportedly starstruck. Asked what he thought of the Clemson gunslinger, Manning texted to a friend, "Well, he stared at me a lot."

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Standing Up for Social Justice

Beyond his pristine touch handling the pigskin, another admirable characteristic of Trevor's is that he's not afraid to stand up for something that he believes is right. Fueled by concerns surrounding police brutality, Trevor recently marched with his teammates to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
Maddie Meyer via Getty Images

"I've learned that every truly good thing in life comes from being brave and stepping into the uncomfortable," he relayed to large crowd gathered on Clemson's campus. "It's uncomfortable to set aside everything I know about America and listen to someone else's perspective. However, it's necessary."

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Leading the #WeWantToPlay Movement

Trevor Lawrence’s influence gives him a major platform and voice within not only the college football sphere but across college sports in general. He leveraged his reputation to assume the role of a strong advocate and leader for the #WeWantToPlay movement amid calls to cancel the 2021-21 fall season due to the coronavirus. 

Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence, College Phenom
Maddie Meyer via Getty Images

The #WeWantToPlay movement centers around the idea of allowing college football players to compete while following the proper precautions to keep them safe and mediate the spread of illness. "Let’s work together to create a situation where we can play the game that all of us love," Trevor suggested to his 124k Twitter followers.

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What is "Tank for Trevor"?

With Trevor having already decided to enter the upcoming 2021 NFL draft following his junior season, the fanmade phrase "Tank for Trevor" boldly suggests that teams should try and lose as many games as possible so that they can earn the No. 1 overall pick and scoop their next franchise QB.

Dabo Swinney & Trevor Lawrence, College PhenomDabo Swinney & Trevor Lawrence, College Phenom
Norm Hall via Getty Images

But what does the 21-year-old think about this trend? "I try to ignore it as much as possible," he revealed to the Greenville News. "Obviously, if you’re on social media at all, you can’t help but see some of it. It’s just funny." Keep going to see some of the unashamed pleas he's referencing.

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Fans Are Sounding Desperate

Discouraged by a (clearly) disappointing Week 3 performance, one desperate fan tweeted, "3 losses down. 13 to go. Trevor Lawrence, we’re coming." Another confessed, "Already got my Trevor Lawrence jersey pre-ordered." C'mon now! It's a little too early for that move.

Trevor Lawrence & Fans, College PhenomTrevor Lawrence & Fans, College Phenom
Ralph Freso via Getty Images

"Maybe the Giants and the Jets can share Trevor Lawrence," offered one New York hopeful. Meanwhile, a Minnesota Vikings supporter made their #TankForTrevor wish as clear as possible, writing, "Dear Minnesota Vikings, Please tank for Trevor Lawrence." Sounds like they're not very pleased with current quarterback Kirk Cousins!

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Which NFL Team Will Draft Trevor?

Expectations around what squad will lose the most games, therefore putting them in the best position to pick Trevor Lawrence, shift each week. But there are a few names consistently at the forefront of the chatter, including the New York Giants, the New York Jets, the Washington Football Team and the Minnesota Vikings.

Jonathan Bachman via Getty Images

Interestingly, all of these franchises save for Minnesota are in the process of witnessing underwhelming experiments with young starting QBs, i.e., the Giants are trying to preserve confidence in their sixth overall pick Daniel Jones while Washington has benched rookie Dwayne Haskins. Would they trust Trevor to prove different?

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Finishing the 2020-21 Season Strong

Before he signs a multi-million dollar pro contract, though, Trevor's main focus is reclaiming the NCAA throne that he and the Clemson Tigers let slip through their paws. At press time for this article, the team is headed down a promising path, sitting at 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country.

Grant Halverson via Getty Images

There's a chance Trevor could earn his place among the great Heisman Trophy alumni as well. He's tossed 10 touchdowns and not a single interception, helping him record the best average passer rating of his career by a long shot at 183. Just like Peyton Manning did in college and the NFL, Trevor is aiming to go out on top!

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