A lot of things have changed for Clemson and college football over the last two decades. At the end of the 1990’s, the BCS system was just forming, and now the sport is nearly five years into the College Football Playoffs format.
Over the last decade, there has also been a major reformation in conferences and an expansion to even more bowl games. But the biggest change may just be starting.
Georgia’s Jake Fromm nearly became the second freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national championship in college football history. He may just be the first of many freshman signal callers to compete for a title.
Herbstreit argued during a conference call Tuesday that seeing young quarterbacks arrive on campus as freshman ready to play is becoming more common, and it’s not difficult to see why.
“You are seeing these kids work (at quarterback) from seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, all the way through high school,” Herbstreit said. “Then they graduate early, so they are a mid-year guy. Now they show up on campus in January when they are supposed to be getting ready for the prom, and now they are going to classes, and they are walking around campus, and they’re going to winter conditioning at six in the morning.
“And they go through spring football. They’re still supposed to be a high school senior.”
The best example this offseason of what Herbstreit is talking about is Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Instead of remaining in high school, Lawrence is already on the Clemson campus and participating in the team practices. On Saturday, he looked very impressive in the Tigers spring game, going 11 of 16 for 112 yards and a touchdown, which was a 50-yard score.
While one practice shouldn’t determine who starts at quarterback, if things continue on this projection, it’s hard imagining Lawrence not as the Clemson starter when the season begins.
Make no mistake, Lawrence is extremely talent. There’s a chance he would start as a freshman in any era just like Dan Marino and Peyton Manning did years ago. Yes, Lawrence appears to be that good.
But today’s college landscape only helps the young quarterbacks even more.
“The development, I think, allows these guys to be ready to go and play and play at a really high level because of all the training that they do and then when they graduate early and learn the system, they are ready to play as freshman,” Herbstreit said. “Many of them in their brains are thinking, ‘I’m going to play for three years and then go to the NFL.'”