Clemson's Trevor Lawrence considers last year's title game loss a blessing

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said he learned from the only loss of his career, against LSU in the national championship game last season.

Trevor Lawrence has had a nearly perfect college career.

The Clemson quarterback now is thankful it’s been merely nearly perfect.

Lawrence, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, has lost only one game in his career. That came in last year’s College Football Playoff championship game against LSU. Lawrence described that loss as devastating, but he looks back at it as a blessing.

“It would have been cool to have the opportunity to not lose a game in college, but I think some things are necessary for you to grow,” Lawrence said during a Zoom news conference for Friday’s CFP semifinal against Ohio State.

“You’ve got to face a little bit of adversity and sometimes you’re a little bit blinded by success if you don’t have any hiccups along the way. I think for us and for me personally, it was good for us to not win that game in a lot of ways.”

Clemson is 10-1 this season. Its only loss was to Notre Dame in double overtime when Lawrence was out with COVID-19. With Lawrence, Clemson trounced the Fighting Irish 34-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

Lawrence believes that loss to LSU has motivated him and his teammates this year. 

“I learned a lot about myself,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I needed to work on to be a better player. I think leading in times when things are harder, when you lose a game, is definitely harder than when you’re winning.”

Lawrence is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft, almost certainly headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I would argue that he's one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time," Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs said.

Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields grew up in Atlanta’s northwest suburbs and have been compared to each other since high school. Lawrence doesn’t view their relationship as a competition.

“We’re friends and we have a good relationship,” Lawrence said. “People like to pin it as that – just me against him. It’s just fun getting the opportunity to play a team like Ohio State.

“Obviously, (OSU is) a huge brand, a great team year in and year out, and to get the opportunity to play them is what you’d expect in a semifinal. We’re playing the best of the best, so we’re excited for that opportunity.”

Once teammates, now opponents

Ohio State linebacker Justin Hilliard and Clemson left guard Matt Bockhorst were teammates at Cincinnati St. Xavier High School for two seasons.

Bockhorst spoke with admiration about Hilliard’s return from multiple serious injuries after enrolling as a five-star prospect.

“He's finally getting healthy, and you can see it on film,” Bockhorst said. “He is a special, world-class athlete.

“I really appreciate Justin and look up to him. He's someone that I really respect. The opportunity to play against one another is just something that's special.”

Hilliard agreed. He chuckled as he recalled Bockhorst as a young player.

"He was probably one of the most memorable, just naturally crazy teammates I've played with," Hilliard said. "He's a guy that loves contact, which is my type of guy. I'm excited to get to play him. It's going to be fun. I'm sure a lot of words will be said."