Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the darling of college football after leading the Tigers to a blowout win over Alabama.
Some UGA fans are wondering, as they kept hearing repeatedly that Lawrence was from the state of Georgia during the telecast of Monday’s national championship – why isn’t Lawrence playing for the Bulldogs rather than Clemson?
Thanks to UGA coach Kirby Smart, the Bulldogs made a ferocious late run at the 5-star recruiting out of Cartersville, Ga., finishing runner-up to only Clemson.
But when Lawrence was going through the critical early stages of the recruiting process, Mark Richt was UGA’s coach and his offensive coordinator was Brian Schottenheimer.
How did Clemson edge out UGA? In a nutshell, Clemson recruited Lawrence much harder at an earlier date while Richt’s UGA staff was focused more on other QB targets.
DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell talked about the topic on Monday’s edition of DawgNation Daily, which is hosted by Brandon Adams. Here’s an excerpt:
“What is that saying that Mama taught us in the South — ‘If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say it all?’” Sentell said. “But I do think that final year of Mark Richt’s recruiting (at UGA) – and let’s just say the dubious recruiting decisions that were made with the brain trust that was there by picking certain players over guys like Davis Mills (now at Stanford) and Jake Fromm (committed to Alabama before later being flipped to UGA by Smart), and that can include Trevor Lawrence as well. I just don’t think Georgia handled recruiting the quarterback position very well near the tail end of the Mark Richt era. Now, of course, people will say ‘What are you talking about? They had Jacob Eason coming in.’ That again is another interesting evaluation as well, considering how Jacob Eason worked out in the SEC.
“When Kirby arrived at Georgia, I recall that story (of the Bulldogs recruiting Lawrence) greatly. Lawrence was one of the very first people he visited while on the recruiting trail for Georgia … that’s just the way it is. Georgia didn’t have the momentum that Clemson did back when Trevor Lawrence was making his decision. And you’ve got to remember – that one year that Trevor Lawrence had to evaluate Georgia was the 8-5 year and not that 13-2 year out of 2017.”
“Dawg Night 2015,” the name of UGA’s summer camp under Richt, was legendary for having Jacob Eason, Bailey Hockman and Lawrence compete against each other during quarterback drills. Schottenheimer, who is now offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, was infatuated with Eason, the 5-star quarterback from the state of Washington who played at UGA for two seasons before transferring to the University of Washington.
Hockman was a left-handed QB from McEachern High School who was briefly committed to Schottenheimer and UGA before later signing with Florida State (he transferred to North Carolina this past fall).
Back to Lawrence: Even though Lawrence was just a sophomore at Dawg Night 2015, some observers thought he performed equal or better than Eason and Hockman. Initially, much to his dismay, Lawrence left UGA camp without a scholarship offer, but Schottenheimer called later to correct that mistake.
After Smart was hired as UGA’s coach, he made a strong run at Lawrence and had some success. Under Smart, the Bulldogs were able to bypass Tennessee among Lawrence’s top three, but they just couldn’t catch Clemson, which got off to such an early and strong start.
In recruiting, you just can’t win them all. But, for the record, Smart and UGA tried its hardest to sign college football’s newest sensation from the state of Georgia.