When Trevor Lawrence watches Georgia, he pays attention to Jacob Eason.
It is more than a quarterback thing. When he sees Eason, the nation’s No. 1 player for 2018 gets a good look at what could potentially be in store for him at UGA. The 5-star QB knows Eason — to some extent — as they met when he visited UGA earlier this year.
“I haven’t talked to him in awhile, but it is good to watch him play because I feel he and I are similar-type players,” Lawrence said after his most recent visit to UGA.
Eason and Lawrence are individuals. This isn’t a comparison despite those similarities. The point is Eason serves as a guidepost of sorts as Lawrence compares a potential “Between the Hedges” fit to an alternate setting in Death Valley.
That’s to be expected. Lawrence said his Top 2 still remains Clemson and Georgia. That’s presented in alphabetical order.
Some might think that Eason’s presence hurts the program chance with Lawrence. I just don’t see it that way. It actually shows him just how the program would use him in Jim Chaney’s offense.
Clemson can put stuff up on the board, but they can’t do the same thing with Heisman Trophy contender DeShaun Watson.
What else did Lawrence say after Saturday’s trip?
He said the trip wasn’t stressful. He deemed it “fun.” That’s despite the weight of a decision that I feel won’t arrive until 2017.
“The game atmosphere” is what he will remember the most about the Auburn game.
What sort of pitch did UGA coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney have? Well, there wasn’t any prolific “Jerry Maguire” speech that would win over any living room.
That’s the Hollywood version. Recruiting on game weekends is generally not like that.
Those gentlemen had a big game to win and then celebrate with a stacked lineup card of other key prospects in town. Several recruits got to see the Bulldogs let loose and relish the victory in the locker room afterward.
But Smart did find some time for Lawrence after the Auburn win. That’s part of his quest to collect the best set of young arms the state of Georgia has likely seen (counting the prolific Jake Fromm ) since the group Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz assembled for the Atlanta Braves in 1995.
What does Lawrence remember that the coaches told him along that visit?
“Not really anything specific,” Lawrence said. “Just the fact they want me and that’s pretty much it.”
That Eason blueprint goes beyond wavy hairstyles. Both are big and pro-style passers. Both rated at the very top of their recruiting classes. Yet Eason was never rated No. 1 overall.
Both seem like Lebrons. That’s a term for a young player who has been talked up for years. But they measure up to all that hype. Maybe they even overdeliver on all the buzz.hat is pretty rare these days.
That seems pretty rare these days.
Producing as the nation’s No. 1 player should
Lawrence rates as a 5-star and the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for 2018. Those traits, by default, make him the nation’s No. 1 quarterback for his class. That’s a perfect storm of interest for those paid to document his recruiting story.
The ears for news hounds cannot perk up any higher than for something like that. The Cartersville junior also looks like a 6-foot-6 future billboard for a college program. Mention his name in the same sentence with the term “NFL Draft” and wait for a reaction.
Those who know the game don’t raise an eyebrow. They nod.
Lawrence has completed 64 percent of his passes this fall for 2,992 yards, 40 TDs and nine interceptions. He’s 37-1 across three seasons as a starter. That’s the biggest stat, but Lawrence already has 9,619 career passing yards for 109 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. That’s despite sipping mostly Gatorade after halftime.
His Hurricanes have now won 26 straight games. If he stays healthy, every significant Georgia high school career passing record should eventually have his name next to it.
The only guy I can compare him to
Want an apples-to-apples comparison? I saw future NFL No. 1 Draft pick Jameis Winston play about 15 games during his prep career in Alabama. Both are big confident guys. Huge throws. They both seem to seek out and crush the big moments.
Lawrence moves like Winston did. He’s not playing cornerback or crushing safeties on blocks 30 yards downfield, but I honestly can’t say who’s looked better through this point of the junior year. Winston seemed to be a tick more athletic, but he was about two inches shorter. Lawrence might be more polished and that’s a significant feat there. Winston also has an All-American baseball career to attend to in high school and he was never ranked No. 1 overall in his class.
Both really seem to know the game and handle a variety of pressure packages well.
Lawrence, a Cartersville star, threw for seven touchdowns in the first half for the defending state champions last Friday night. But the headlines that dominate Google searches regarding Lawrence of late are about his recent trip to Athens.
It was his first UGA game of the year and a strong showing for that program against Auburn. He’s also recently been to see Louisville at Clemson, LSU host Alabama and plans to see “The Iron Bowl” between Alabama and Auburn this month.
The 6-foot-6, 200-pound Lawrence had planned to make his decision between Clemson and Georgia prior to his junior year. That’s a reflection of the team-first attitude he always carries in regard to Cartersville football.
No more interviews, visit questions, etc. I'm trying to focus on the playoffs! #RoadToTheDome
— Trevor Lawrence (@Trevorlawrencee) November 14, 2016
When he wasn’t ready to commit, Lawrence took to Twitter and asked the media pursuing his thoughts to refrain from interview requests. There was a trickle of information that Lawrence shared over the last 10 days through quick messages with reporters about visit plans.
He did some media after his recent UGA visit. DawgNation was one of a few outlets that were able to collect a few comments. That phase is now over. He’s asked for media to now respect his time and his focus on another state title run for Cartersville.
The young man is handling this attention on his terms. He’s conducting it the way a traffic cop would a mass of pedestrians at a crosswalk. He manages those news hounds the same way he might check to a new play at the line.
Lawrence does not say much. My surest means of communication with him over the years have been through quick text conversations. It seems like he says “Yes, sir” in those about as often as he throws those touchdowns.
He’s recorded one of those for every one of his 8.8 career pass attempts. That’s the average. His interception ratio is rather meek. He throws one of those per every 48 pass attempts.
Those stats read like Georgia R.R. Martin conjured them up.
What another 5-star thinks about Lawrence
Pace Academy junior OG Jamaree Salyer is the No. 2 player in Georgia for 2018 behind Lawrence. He’s also the No. 1 guard in the nation for his class and ranks No. 11 overall.
The 6-foot-4, 325-pounder proved to be one of the nation’s best linemen at Nike’s “The Opening” in July. That’s while mixing it up with rising seniors. I have no doubt that he could play next year anywhere in the country. He will be an instant starter wherever he lands (likely Clemson, UGA and Ohio State) in 2018.
I wanted to know what he thinks about Lawrence. The 5-star QB has told me in the past he’d sure like to have Salyer watching his back. That’s a respect thing. He knows that Salyer is also every bit as good as folks make him out to be, too.
Salyer knows Lawrence better than he does the other elite 5-stars like RB Zamir White and DE Justin Mascoll. He knows what kind of damage they could do if they all choose the same school.
“Me and Trevor kind of have those talks sometimes,” Salyer said. “I don’t really know Zamir that well. Justin and I never talk about being on the same team but we do talk about the kind of schools we are interested in and what schools we’d like to play for. But Trevor and I talk about that stuff all the time. A quarterback always wants to be protected. The main thing when we talk is I want to see where his mind is and he wants to see where my mind is.”
Salyer shared a thought about that.
“If I had to guess I’d say he’s still probably 50-50 on Georgia and Clemson,” Salyer said. “I know he came out publicly and said that but I don’t think he’s leaning toward a school yet. I know those schools are both good fits for him but I don’t think he’s leaning towards a side right now.”
We’ll offer full disclosure here. Salyer said he often tries to predict where he thinks guys will end up. He’s a lot like some fans in that regard.
“I think right now I’m like 1-for-20,” Salyer said. “I got (Jacob) Eason going to Georgia. I got that one right but that one was easy. From the beginning, I thought Trevor was going to end up at Tennessee because they were telling him the whole be the next Peyton Manning thing. But it looks like that is not what is going on there now.”
Lawrence can anchor the 2018 class
Lawrence is the key component to build the 2018 class for Georgia. He plays the game’s most important position, but he’s also a guy other top players will pay attention to.
I stand behind my opinion that a commitment from Lawrence could eventually help the Bulldogs sign the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. The talent in the state of Georgia sets up for it in 2018.
If he eventually chooses UGA, I predict that decision — plus the completion of the shiny new $31 million indoor practice facility — will provide incredible momentum. The big underdog victory against Top 10 Auburn has also created a lot of positive energy around the program.
A strong finishing kick against Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia Tech would provide a great script heading into the off-season.
The latest on the young man they call Zeus
We’ve had a couple of updates now on the reactions from Georgia’s big win against Auburn. That said, I want to make sure to make sure everyone saw DawgNation’s latest update on 5-star RB Zamir White.
The backstory: Georgia led for White “by a lot” at one time. That was during the Mark Richt era. His current decision is much more complicated. Clemson and UGA again look like main contenders, but he’s also taken a couple of recent visits to Alabama and Ohio State. I’d say that all of those schools are in it.
White is the No. 1 RB in the nation for 2018 and can call his shot. North Carolina is also a contender because of its location and the fact one of his best friends plays there.
So what about Georgia?
Well, White told me some very some very interesting things about how he feels about UGA. nothing compares to the conversation he had with UGA staff member Mike Cavan. Cavan was the recruiter of record back in 1980 who eventually brought Herschel Walker to Georgia.
White told me that Cavan had a nice little chat with him about that topic prior to the Auburn game on Saturday.
Recruiting boost from the Auburn win?
Smart was asked a question in his Monday press conference about any recruiting gains that he felt might come after the big win against Auburn. He downplayed it and noted there was some good energy afterward, but made a point that he didn’t see anything tangible from it.
Smart noted that nobody committed after the win. That’s the example he used about a big win potentially sparking something up.
But Jaden Hunter, the 4-star UGA commit for the Class of 2017, does see something positive from that game.
The Vanderbilt game is now balanced out by what many in the media are calling Smart’s “signature win” so far at UGA.
“That game showed me that this team can play with anybody if they can believe it and that next year is going to be lit,” Hunter said.
The 4-star LB was encouraged that all the top recruits in town got to see the program in the best possible light.
He said he’s now going to use that showing when he talks to undecided or on-the-fence recruits about Georgia.
“I’m bringing up that game,” Hunter said. “I’m glad that a lot of the top guys in the country got to see that game.”
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Follow Jeff Sentell on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.