CLEMSON—For most Americans there would not be a sense of happiness if they stepped on the scale at their house and it read 337-pounds.
But for sophomore defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence the joy he experienced when he stepped on the scale at the Tigers’ annual weight in was second to none—especially after head coach Dabo Swinney stated that he was only, “A biscuit away from 350.”
“Yeah, there was a lot of anticipation for my weigh in,” Lawrence said. “There was no telling how much I was going to weigh. I was excited. I didn’t weigh in the last couple of days just to see how much I was going, I was expecting 345ish, you know, 337 is really great. You know, I feel really good out here running around with the guys.”
Lawrence, who entered Clemson at 340 pounds last season, saw his weight start the upward climb all the way to 355 after having a screw put in his foot after the spring. The rehab time gave the freshman All-American time to do something he loved a little too much—eat ice cream.
But all of that stopped once Lawrence got done with rehab.
“Lord, I couldn’t have what I wanted—let’s just put it like that,” Lawrence said. “I’m an ice cream man. I couldn’t get no ice cream.”
With the weigh in now behind him, and not having to worry about the jeers of teammate Christian Wilkins—who, at 297 pounds, likes to call Lawrence “fat boy”—Lawrence is focused on starting over this season and improving his mental approach.
“My mindset, I just kind of start over each year. I’m the kind of guy that knows that last year can’t help me this year,” Lawrence said. “The things I did last year won’t help me this year. So, I mean, I just want to start over just from the basics getting my technique down, learning the block formations and just the little things that I just want to keep getting better. When I watch film, I know what I struggled with last year.
“Just the mental stuff. Just the block recognition and just learning how this is a different pace in college and just kind of catch on to that a little more.”
The sophomore defensive lineman is already being picked by numerous publications to have an even bigger impact than he did in his freshman season, which saw him amass 79 tackles (fifth most on the team), break the freshman record with seven tacks, while tallying 9.5 tackles for loss and 23 quarterback pressures.
But even with the media attention surrounding the first-team All-ACC preseason selection growing seemingly daily, Lawrence is not focused on the accomplishments of last season—because this is a new year for both himself and his Tiger teammates.
“I try not to feed too much into it,” Lawrence said. “I just play my game, and in the long run I can’t let things like that try and overwhelm me. I’m just trying to stay my pace, stay my course and just let God take his… it’s a new season, new team and we got new goals.”
With this new team, many of the younger players on the roster are looking up to Lawrence for guidance after seeing the dynamic season that he had last year, and wanting to experience similar success themselves this season.
The advice that Lawrence has for those younger players who admire what he accomplished in his first season at Clemson is simple—compete and trust.
“I just tell them to compete and trust the process,” Lawrence said. “The coaches here know what they’re doing. They give everyone the opportunity to show their abilities. There’s no selfishness here and all the guys, I mean not just me, Christian (Wilkins), Albert (Huggins), Sterling (Johnson)—everyone is just here to help the younger guys come along, because you don’t want no slack off in our position.”