Trevor Lawrence hopes to follow in the footsteps of last year's leaders


by - Senior Writer -
Trevor Lawrence smiles at Monday's practice
Trevor Lawrence smiles at Monday's practice

CLEMSON – Trevor Lawrence walked up behind center during practice last week and peered across the line at the defensive front. Things looked different. Very different.

Gone are defensive stalwarts in Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Albert Huggins, Dexter Lawrence, and Austin Bryant. In their place are freshmen and sophomores who are still trying to find their spot on the depth chart.

Different.

“It’s very different. It makes it a lot easier in practice, but I miss those guys a lot,” Lawrence said Monday. “But, we’ll be fine. Guys are going to step up, and we’ve got players to fill the spots, but we definitely miss having those guys there. You can’t really explain what they mean to a program – obviously, they’re great players, but also the leaders they are.”

Lawrence said he learned how to be a leader from that group.

“I feel like a bunch of the guys on the team deal with similar stuff, so we can talk to each other and help each other out. Guys like Christian (Wilkins) and Clelin (Ferrell) kind of helped me out. I could see how it was for them when I was coming in, and it’s kind of turned into that for me, so it was cool to see how they handled everything and learning things from them.”

Also gone is wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, who played with Lawrence just one season but left a lasting impression.

“It’s weird. I only played with him for a year, but just seeing him here for those four years, it felt like he was here forever – and then looking out and seeing that he’s not there,” Lawrence said. “It’s a little different. Amari (Rodgers) is working five-man, (Derion Kendrick), Cornell (Powell) – those guys have been doing a really good job, but it’s definitely different not having Hunter out here.”

“He’s just so reliable and really smart. Whoever gets him at the next level is in for a treat because he’s a great dude and he’s just really smart.”

Lawrence’s success last season means that some of the talented youngsters will be looking his way for leadership, and that’s something he intends to provide. That includes freshman quarterback Taisun Phommachanh:

“He’s a really good player. He’s really athletic and can throw the ball well,” Lawrence said. “He’s still trying to learn everything just like I was last year, so I feel like I can help him in that aspect. I know it was kind of tough at times, so I’m just trying to help him learn, and he’s been great.”

A trio of talented freshmen are his new targets on the outside - Frank Ladson, Joe Ngata, and Brannon Spector.

“All of them are really good. I think we have 17 mid-years, and they’re really impressive – those receivers especially,” Lawrence said. “I get to see them up close, them and Taisun are who I’m with the most. They’re going to be really good. Joe, Brannon, and Frank are really good players.”

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