Dabo Swinney Would Be 'Surprised' If Trevor Lawrence Returned to Clemson in 2021

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2020

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney celebrates with quarterback Trevor Lawrence after Clemson defeated Ohio State 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney sounded like someone who is resigned to the fact top quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence will be in the NFL next year but left the door open to the star signal-caller if he wants to return. 

"I mean, we'll certainly let him stay if that's what he wants to do," Swinney said on SiriusXM (h/t Rich Cimini of ESPN). "But I'd be surprised if he's back with the Tigers next year, but who knows? You never know. I didn't think Christian Wilkins was coming back, but he did."

There isn't much left for Lawrence to prove at the collegiate level. In two full seasons as a starter, he led the Tigers to a College Football Playoff national championship and another appearance in the national title game all while skyrocketing up draft boards.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller projected him as the No. 1 overall pick in a September mock draft.

"Smart evaluators are looking at what Lawrence does well," Miller wrote. "He's an impressive athlete at 6'6" and 220 pounds with room to fill out his lean frame. He's an accomplished and tough runner willing and able to beat defenses (see Ohio State) with his legs. But he's also a smart, savvy and crafty passer who rarely makes mistakes with his decision-making, clock management or ability to read the defense."

That sounds like someone who is ready for the next challenge, but he seemed to leave the door open to a return Tuesday.

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"My mindset has been that I'm going to move on," Lawrence told reporters. "But who knows? There's a lot of things that could happen."

His quote immediately led to speculation that going to the NFL if the 0-7 New York Jets have the No. 1 overall pick may not be the best path of long-term success for the quarterback. Instead, he could return to Clemson, compete for another championship and perhaps go No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL draft:

It is all just speculation at this point, and there is no guarantee it will even be the Jets picking at No. 1. For now, Lawrence is focusing on winning another championship for the Tigers and perhaps doing the one thing he has not done in the college game: capture a Heisman Trophy.