Trevor Lawrence is the top-ranked prospect in America for the Class of 2018.
The five-star quarterback from Cartersville High School still has up to 30 more high school football games to play, but plans to make his decision by August.
Lawrence had UGA and Tennessee even after a recent trip to Athens, but the Clemson Tigers have now made it a three-team race after a recent visit.
“I’d say they are all even,” Lawrence said “I really like all of them a lot and I’m going to go on a lot of visits this summer to make sure. I think I will know, though.”
What does he think of each school?
UGA: “I’m going to go back because that’s a new group of coaches. I’ve only talked to them once but I really liked all of them that first time I met them.”
Clemson: “I’ve got a good relationship with all of them I feel like.”
Tennessee: “I really need to build a relationship a little bit better with Tennessee with the coaches,” he said.
Why will the 6-foot-5 signal caller make his decision so early? Quarterbacks are the tone setters for recruiting classes. The five-star variety commit early and the lucky big-time program that lands them usually builds a top class around them.
Jacob Eason committed to UGA in July of 2014. That was about 18 months before he enrolled early. If recruiting is all about relationships, the elite signal callers go the way of the 19th-century and get hitched up when they are young.
Lawrence said it would really help to have a good grasp of what that decision might be, but he can’t say that right now.
“I honestly don’t know what my decision would be right now,” he said.
The sophomore is easily one of the Top 5 high school quarterbacks in the game regardless of grade level. He’s a state champion, a two-year starter and has already thrown 69 touchdown passes.
He said he’s clocked the 40-yard dash in the 4.72 range. That said, he’s no dual-threat quarterback and his skill set lines up well with the pro-set offense at UGA. How have two spread teams like Clemson and Tennessee been able to bend his ear about his future in those systems?
Lawrence asked Clemson on his last visit if he would have to pull a DeShaun Watson in that offense. Would he have to run around a bit?
“No, not really,” Lawrence said, who runs a spread offense at Cartersville. “They said I wouldn’t do what they do there with DeShaun Watson. Just be able to move around and step up in the pocket a bit. They would keep me in the pocket, but run the same type stuff.”
He’s also planning a trip to Florida over the next month on his spring break, but that seems like a longshot. He wants to play close to home. Lawrence grew up a Tennessee fan. Will that be a factor?
“I was a Tennessee fan growing up but then I started getting recruited and that doesn’t matter anymore,” he said. “It plays into it a little bit, but I definitely do not think about it when making my decision.”
He prefers recruiters to “be straight-up honest” with him. The 195-pounder wants to know what their plans are and who else they are recruiting ahead of him.
“Then honestly let me know what you are going to do with the offense when I am there,” he said. “Then after that it is coaching personality and how the head coach handles himself.”
Lawrence is not looking for a coach with an offensive background. A couple of the coaches have asked him to call them every week or every other week. UGA head coach Kirby Smart made a good first impression by re-offering Lawrence in the first few days after he accepted the job.
Lawrence said Smart’s latest message simply conveyed his worth.
“He told me they really wanted me and he also told me before they got Jake Fromm they were going to get a 2017 quarterback so he was honest with me about that,” Lawrence said. “I really appreciated that. They said they wanted me, but he is not going to promise me anything.”
He won’t worry about Eason and Fromm also being at UGA.
“I thought about that and I was a little worried about some places,” he said. “But if I am going to have to beat one top guy to start, I can beat out whoever else is there, too. I’m not really worried about who’s there and who will be there.”
Lawrence earned Top QB honors out of more than 420 total participants at the MVP prospect camp on Sunday. He also got the chance to throw a few passes between periods to UGA five-star signee Mecole Hardman, Jr. at Lovejoy High.
“It was cool,” Lawrence said. “He is going to be really good. I am excited to see what he does next year.”
Did that give him a glimpse of one of his potential playing futures?
“Yeah you never know,” he said. “It could be.”
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.