For some players, it doesn’t take long to make a quick impression on the field as a freshman. For Dexter Lawrence, it quickly became apparent what kind of player he would become when he made his debut against the Auburn Tigers in 2016.
At 6’4, 350 pounds, Lawrence arrived at Clemson as a well-noted behemoth of a freshman defensive tackle, and immediately was recognized for his combination of size and athleticism. Rated as the No. 2 overall player in the country by Rivals and 247sports.com and a unanimous top-10 player by most recruiting services, the Wake Forest, North Carolina product was coveted by virtually every major program. The moment he signed, Lawrence had the distinction of being one of Clemson’s highest-rated signings ever.
Lawrence consistently made life difficult for the interior of opposing offensive lines. He, like his fellow defensive linemen, were part of the vaunted Power Rangers that became a staple of perhaps the most decorated group in Clemson history. Lawrence immediately earned a starting position as a freshman, and finished his rookie campaign with 79 tackles (9.5 for loss), seven sacks, two fumble recoveries, and two blocked kicks while starting in 11 games. Heading into year two, Lawrence was hampered by a nagging foot injury, which ultimately limited his snaps throughout the season. Despite that, he managed to put up numbers comparable to his freshman season. Lawrence finished his sophomore campaign with 39 tackles (three for loss), 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble while being named a First-Team All-ACC selection and earning All-American honors from Rivals (second-team).
In 2018, Lawrence reclaimed the athleticism that was partially robbed by injury in 2017 and anchored what became arguably the best defensive line in Clemson history. Lawrence finished his final season with 44 tackles (7.5 for loss), 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, a blocked kick, and a rushing touchdown. Lawrence also earned First-Team All-American honors from the AFCA and the Associated Press. While he was was unable to participate in his final two games as a Tiger against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Alabama Crimson Tide, Lawrence longed proved his ability as an anchor of Clemson’s defensive line the past three seasons.
Lawrence also took his skills to the offensive side as part of Clemson’s goal-line “Fridge Package” alongside teammates Christian Wilkins. After all, what defensive player wants to try taking this behemoth down:
Lawrence declared for the NFL Draft following the Tigers’ win against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Like his fellow compatriots along the defensive line, Lawrence played with the kind of fun and chemistry head coach Dabo Swinney instills in the football program. Clemson has had a number of defensive linemen through its program, and Lawrence will be remembered as one of the best to walk through its doors.
To Lawrence, us and the rest of Clemson faithful wish you nothing but the best in your NFL career.