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2020 Clemson Football Season Preview: Quarterbacks

Guess who’s back, back again, Thor is back, tell a friend

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back!

It would be an understatement to say that in the time since we last saw Clemson play, the world has been through a lot. But even by the standards of 2020, Trevor Lawrence has had quite the off-season. Be it his statements both on Twitter and at the protest held in Clemson in response to George Floyd’s death, his leadership in trying to make sure this season happens by working with athletes and coaches, or even that he found the time to propose to his girlfriend.

It may or may not actually be true, but I’d always gotten the impression that Trevor was a quiet person – still a leader, just not the vocal sort. But his willingness to go out and loudly support his teammates in protests against police brutality and push to save the 2020 season changed that impression.

If you or I were in the same position as Trevor, we’d likely keep our mouths shut as the season falls apart – even silently happy that we get to avoid the possibility of injury in the final, superficial year before the NFL. Too many NFL-bound players to count have been lambasted for taking their junior season lightly in hopes of avoiding injury, so a chance to miss that year with no repercussions would be invaluable. Trevor’s willingness to proclaim a cause and demand to play really does highlight how different he is as a person.

On the field, Lawrence has the arm talent that any NFL team dreams to see, though his accuracy does get away from him from time to time, which should stop with more experience. It’s a cliche, but he really is a deceptively fast runner. The designed QB run will definitely remain a common sight. He’s completely unafraid of contact, seemingly always ready to throw his body towards the first down marker – a positive or a negative depending on the play. One play you might see him writhing in agony after being targeted during a CB blitz. Then just a quarter later he’s taking a designed QB run 67 yards for a game-changing score.

The most important thing to keep an eye on for his 2020 is how Lawrence deals with all the losses at wide receiver. Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross lit up the field and the gif libraries the last two years, but with Higgins off to the Bengals and Ross out for the year, younger receivers will need to grow up quickly.

Before we move on, let’s just admire the hair:

That was nice. Let’s get to the rest.

The starting job is not up for debate, but the battle for the backup spot should not be ignored. One of these two guys is destined to be the face of the program very soon, plus you should probably start practicing their names. Redshirt freshman Taisun Phommachanh and true freshman D.J. Uiagalelei are both extremely talented, and I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if they both become the starter at some point after Trevor leaves.

Uiagalelei gets a ton of attention, and for good reason. He comes into Clemson as a top ten recruit, and the highest rated QB from 247sports. Not the #1 recruit that Trevor was, but still an unbelievably talented signal caller. Phommachanh shouldn’t be overlooked, though. He came in rated as a four star recruit and one of the best QBs, too. He’s got an extremely compact throwing motion and the coaches have raved about the progress he’s made. Dabo thinks Clemson can win with either at the helm – whoever wins this battle will be on the fast track to starting.

It’s hard to say “expect consistency” in 2020. There’s no telling if everything will be normal when/if the season gets rolling. Who knows if players will be as polished as years prior, and the weird schedules, atmosphere, and eligibility rules might make the whole thing feel off for everyone involved? But if there’s any group that should remain consistent in quality and growth, it’s this QB room.