Clemson football: Trevor Lawrence tests positive for COVID-19

On Oct. 29, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19. That tweet set the sports world on fire as agents, analysts, fans, and networks clamored for more information on the nation’s top college football player. Lawrence quelled the storm with a statement confirming the report and that he’d entered isolation.

Lawrence won’t play this weekend when the Clemson Tigers square off against the Boston College Eagles. However, most people are looking ahead to No. 1 Clemson’s matchup against No. 4 Notre Dame on Nov. 7. That game could determine which ACC school finishes the regular season with a top-four rank and ultimately gains entry to the College Football Playoffs.

Head coach Dabo Swinney chimed in with an official statement, saying, “Trevor has authorized us this evening to announce that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now in isolation. He is doing well with mild symptoms but will not be available for this week’s game against Boston College. While we certainly will miss Trevor, this is an opportunity for other guys to step up and we’re excited about competing against a very good BC team on Saturday. Go Tigers.”

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Lawrence’s positive test was taken on Wednesday, which counts toward the ten days he must spend in isolation per COVID-19 protocol. The Tigers hope Lawrence recovers completely and quickly because the 6-6, dual-threat quarterback is the core of Clemson’s offense.

Traveling without Lawrence to face Notre Dame could turn into a disaster for the Tigers. The star quarterback’s ten-day quarantine ends next Friday, meaning he could play against the Fighting Irish on Saturday if he’s also gone 24 hours without a positive test or symptoms. That’s cutting it incredibly close and means Lawrence won’t have his usual practice reps going into the game.

Lawrence is the frontrunner in the Heisman race, outpacing Alabama’s Mac Jones and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. BYU’s Zach Wilson and Clemson’s Travis Etienne have also drawn attention for college football’s greatest individual award, but it’s a three-man race.

Following Clemson’s recent 47-21 win against Syracuse, 15 ESPN writers produced their latest Heisman rankings. Lawrence received 12 of the first-place votes and buried the competition with 72 points. Jones finished with 51, and Fields received 45 despite only playing in one game this season.

NFL analysts also have high hopes for Lawrence. Recent mock drafts by CBS Sports, Walter Football, and Yahoo! Sports all have the junior going first overall in 2021. While Lawrence hasn’t committed to the draft, most analysts assume he’ll head to the pros after this season.

Lawrence is one of college football’s biggest names. He doesn’t have a massive contract or a ton of endorsements, but the 21-year-old is a pro in the making and an incredible leader. Losing him for at least the upcoming game against Boston College is a massive blow for the Tigers. Luckily, Swinney’s program has plenty of experienced stars capable of shouldering the additional responsibility.

The Tigers aren’t producing as many yards on the ground this season as they did in 2019. The drop-off from 240.5 yards per game to 176.7 is significant, but Clemson could turn back to the ground game against Boston College. Etienne is one of the sport’s best running backs, and Lyn-J Dixon isn’t a bad option either.

With Lawrence out for at least this weekend’s matchup, the Tigers should emphasize running the offense through Etienne. Freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei will likely make his first start. Swinney took care of Uiagalelei early in the season, giving him playing time in five blowouts.

According to 247Sports, Uiagalelei was the No. 10 recruit in the 2020 class, and he was the top quarterback prospect coming out of high school. While he possesses immense potential, and the Tigers hope he can serve as Lawrence’s heir, Uiagalelei hasn’t thrown a touchdown at Clemson yet. He’ll have to rely heavily on seniors like Etienne and Amari Rodgers this weekend.