The nation’s No. 1 overall player for 2018 visited UGA this month. Cartersville’s Trevor Lawrence was so impressed he moved UGA into a dead heat with Tennessee as his top school.
That wasn’t the only thing of note for a player who hopes to make his decision this summer. He said UGA plans to sign two quarterbacks for 2017 and it didn’t bother him one bit.
“Greyson Lambert will be gone after this year and they will just have Jacob Eason and Brice Ramsey,” Lawrence said. “If Brice Ramsey doesn’t start, then he will probably either punt or go somewhere else so they will only have Jacob Eason. They have to get two quarterbacks in the ‘17 class. They told me that. I appreciate them being honest with me and not saying I’m the only guy they need to get. They need more than that. I will just have to see who they can sign.”
Lawrence understands that strategy even with Eason on campus as an early enrollee for the 2016 season. He also said UGA didn’t discuss a plan to sign one pocket passer and one dual-threat quarterback with the Class of 2017 wish list.
“You really can’t escape the fact there is going to be someone older than you already there,” Lawrence said. “They can’t not sign a ‘16 or a ‘17 kid. They have to sign at least one in each. I’ve been thinking about it. At first I was a little worried about it. A couple of other places have quarterbacks already in (the classes of) ‘17 or ‘16 that are really good. But then I was thinking if I want to go play big-time football I am going to have to deal with it. I’m going to come in and my goal is to start my first year. If it doesn’t happen, that’s okay but definitely that is my goal even if Jacob Eason is the one that is there. I still think that maybe I can do it if I keep working.”
The top-rated QB for 2018 will look at each depth chart among his top schools. He’ll assess their skills with his own eyes to break down where he would fit in.
If he signs, that would give UGA a 5-star quarterback on the depth chart for the first five seasons of the Smart era. The Cartersville sophomore has already thrown for 6,697 yards and 69 touchdowns in two seasons. He stacked up 43 touchdown passes and just four interceptions while leading his team to the state title last year.
Lawrence belonged in any rating of the Top 10 prep quarterbacks nationally regardless of age last season. He’s without question one of the nation’s Top 5 quarterbacks in the ‘17 and ‘18 classes.
Does this UGA coaching staff fit him better than the previous one?
“I would say it does fit better,” Lawrence said. “I think my style is more like that of Coach Smart. I really like him. I really liked Mark Richt a lot, but I really like Coach Smart. I think he is going to be a really good coach. I think coach (Jim) Chaney is going to bring a new element to the offense. He is like a genius calling plays and knowing what to do on offense. It will be fun to watch him.”
The 5-star prospect said Chaney told him his skill set is needed to be in a pro-style offense and that is what he will run at UGA. The nearly 6-foot-6, 194-pounder also stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Eason on the weekend visit.
“He told me about how the college game is a lot faster and a lot different and he loves it there,” Lawrence said. “He said it just takes awhile to get used to.”
The sophomore said UGA, Clemson and Tennessee have consistently been at the top of his list. He plans to visit several schools over the next few months. Clemson has dropped behind UGA and Tennessee in his mind for the time being.
“Clemson actually has two 2017 (quarterbacks) now in Chase (Brice) and (Hunter Johnson) who had been committed to Tennessee that flipped,” Lawrence said. “They are both pretty good. I think that’s what brought Clemson down to number three from a number one like I would say they were a couple of months ago.”
Also of note:
- Smart reached out to Lawrence’s father soon after he was hired to assure him Trevor still had a UGA offer. That happened in the first “couple of days” after he was hired. That pretty much shows how important he was to the new staff.
- Lawrence would like to consider schools like Oklahoma and Oregon but those are likely too far away. He plans to stay close to home so it sets up UGA, Alabama, Clemson and Tennessee as ideal landing spots.
- He liked Smart “a lot” and said the new UGA coach really understands the position Lawrence is in. “He’s a good guy to talk to,” Lawrence said.
- Lawrence does not hope to de-commit. “When I know I’m going to do (commit) I’m going to make sure I know before I do it. I don’t want to de-commit. I would if it was really necessary but once I say where I’m going I want to stay there.”
Chaney recruits his area, but he’s also handling the bulk of Lawrence’s recruiting. He said when they spoke, it was light on any pressure. “It was just not like the normal coach conversation. He’d joke around. You can ask him about other schools and what he thinks. He’ll give you his honest opinion and not bash other schools and try to get me to come to Georgia all the time. He’s a really good guy and I like him a lot.”
- Lawrence said Chaney told him “no one has as many quarterbacks as him in the NFL.” He also liked the overall approach: “They think I’m going to be a really good player,” Lawrence said. “But they are not going to sit there and tell me how good I am to get me to come to Georgia. They told me they wanted me there but they understand I need to make the decision that is best for me. That was good and definitely different than what I expected.”
- His decision will ultimately come down to a fit and not depth charts: “If it is the right fit and that’s where I know where I want to go then that is where I will go regardless.”
- He’ll go to Florida at the beginning of April on his spring break. He hopes to hit Tennessee this spring and Tennessee and UGA again in the summer. Clemson will also get a visit and maybe an Ole Miss. He would return to UGA’s “Dawg Night” prospect camp this summer if invited.
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.