A star is born: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence takes center stage as football’s next big thing

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott caught a smile flashing across Trevor Lawrence's face following the Tigers' pregame meal before Monday night's championship game against Alabama, the Tigers' first signal that even this moment, the biggest in the sport, wouldn't be too much for the 19-year-old true freshman quarterback.

Elliott watched as Lawrence went through his normal rituals: change, lace up, tape up, get ready. Lawrence was calm, relaxed. He was ready. Sophomore wide receiver Tee Higgins sensed it, too.

"The big dog's coming out tonight," he said.

Not long after the meal, Lawrence was briefed by Elliott, co-coordinator Jeff Scott and quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter, who hammered home the same message the coaching staff had preached throughout his three-month stint as the Tigers' starting quarterback: "You're prepared for this," Scott said. "You're more than prepared for this."

"I believe you’re the best quarterback in the country. I believe you’re going to be the best quarterback on the field tonight. I think that’s going to show. You don’t have to do anything more than what you’ve done all year long. Be special."

A star was born on Monday night here in the Bay Area, one with long, flowing blond locks, a powerful right arm and an aura of serenity even among the highest stakes there is to offer — a College Football Playoff National Championship game pairing with Alabama, the fourth meeting in as many years between two powers who straddle side by side atop the Bowl Subdivision. By embracing the moment and leading Clemson to a 44-16 submission of the Crimson Tide, Lawrence put the finishing touches on a stunning first chapter in what will almost inevitably be a historic college career.

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