2015 Player Projection: Shaq Lawson

by - Senior Writer -
Lawson was dominant against Wake Forest last November
Lawson was dominant against Wake Forest last November

The losses of Vic Beasley Vic Beasley
Defensive End (2010 - 2014)
#3 6-2, 236
Adairsville, GA

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and Corey Crawford Corey Crawford
Defensive End (2011 - 2014)
#93 6-5, 275
Columbus, GA

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off of Clemson’s defensive line means the Tigers have to find new ways and players to put pressure on the quarterback in 2015. Expect a lot of that slack to be taken up by rising junior defensive end Shaq Lawson Shaq Lawson
So. Defensive End
#90 6-3, 269
Central, SC

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, who looks to have a breakout season now that he’s not in Beasley’s record-breaking shadow.


SIZE: 6-3, 275



SCHOOL: D.W. Daniel

CAREER STATS: Lawson has 79 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 14 quarterback pressures, one pass breakup, one caused fumble and one blocked kick in 632 snaps over 26 games (one start) in his career.

IN HIGH SCHOOL: Rated as the No. 1 prep school prospect in the nation and No. 1 prep school defensive end at Hargrave Military Academy by 247Sports.com ... No. 3 player in South Carolina by Rivals.com ... top-300 All-American by PrepStar ... had 99 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, nine sacks and five caused fumbles as a senior ... had 100 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and two touchdowns as a junior ... played in the North/South All-Star game, where he was named defensive MVP ... defensive MVP in the Offense/Defense All-American Bowl ... coached by Randy Robinson at Daniel High School and Troy Davis at Hargrave Military Academy ... recruited by Dan BrooksDan Brooks
Assoc. Head Coach / Def. Tackles
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and Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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2014 RECAP: Lawson had 44 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, five quarterback pressures and one caused fumble in 295 snaps over 13 games (one start). Lawson started the season with four tackles and two quarterback pressures in 33 snaps in Clemson’s loss in the season opener at Georgia.

Lawson had four tackles and one sack for a safety in 23 snaps against North Carolina on Sept. 27th and got his first career start against Louisville on Oct. 11th. He had two tackles in 21 snaps in that game. Lawson’s breakout performance came at Wake Forest in early November when he had a game-high four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in 30 snaps and was named the defensive player-of-the-game. Lawson had four tackles and one tackle for loss in 25 snaps at No. 23 Georgia Tech on Nov. 15th, and showed a glimpse of the future when he had four tackles, a caused fumble and a blocked extra point in 19 snaps against No. 24 Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 29th.

Shaq talks about his offseason and plans for 2015 here:

2015 EXPECTATIONS: There is one of the unquestioned leaders for a young Clemson defense. Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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says that Lawson is never quiet and his humor keeps the players loose during long practice and training sessions.

However, 2015 will be different for Lawson as he steps into a starting role. Lawson could have opted to leave Clemson after last season to head to the NFL, but he knows and has said he wasn’t close to being ready. This year could change that.

Lawson isn’t in the mold of Beasley – he’s 40 pounds heavier – but still has great burst and can get to the quarterback while also being a force against the run. He told TigerNet during the spring that he wants to prove that he can be the dominant defensive end that coaches and fans have grown accustomed to.

“Now I'm just going to make the most of my time this year and make the most of my opportunities,” Lawson told the media during a recent spring practice interview. “I don't want to be compared to Vic. Vic was a great player. I just want to be my own player. I just want to be my own name, Shaq Lawson.”

His work started with changing his eating habits.

“I had to change my eating habits and that was the main part that I focused on this spring,” Lawson said.” Another main focus for him was to become a better pass rusher. Lawson stated that he’d like to get to the quarterback more and that he had to change his game a little bit more, just from a pass rusher stand point. “My twitch has gotten faster, my get off is much quicker off the ball. I can recognize a pass a lot quicker than I used to.”

Many see Lawson as more of a run stopper, but he said that he has several pass rush moves in his repertoire.

“I just have three great moves that I can use at any time. It just all depends on what type [of play] they'll give me,” he said.

A GOOD SEASON FOR LAWSON WOULD BE… Double-digit sacks would be exceptional, but his leadership will be just as important. If Lawson can demand the same kind of double teams that Beasley demanded, it will open up the inside for defensive tackles D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Defensive Tackle (2012 - 2015)
#48 6-2, 325
Greensboro, NC

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and Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
RS Jr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 295
Mooresboro, NC

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and take pressure off of strongside defensive end Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
RS Jr. Defensive End
#98 6-5, 275
Taylors, SC

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. His ability to make plays in space should also take pressure off of the linebackers.

If he can stay healthy, provide leadership and get double-digit sacks, it will be a successful campaign.

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