Tuesday's college football: Clemson's Trevor Lawrence leaving door open for return

Associated Press

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence stopped short of calling an audible on his plans to head to the NFL next year, though the likely No. 1 pick in next year’s draft did not rule out returning to school.

“My mindset has been that I’m going to move on,” said the 6-foot-6 quarterback with the flowing hair. “But who knows? There’s a lot of things that could happen.”

Lawrence had laid publicly laid out his plans before Clemson’s opener at Wake Forest last month: play this college season, graduate in December with his bachelor’s degree in marketing and get ready for the NFL.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence

That’s led to reports about which NFL teams might win the Lawrence sweepstakes — and the front-runner right now is the offensively challenged New York Jets. At 0-7, the Jets are the NFL’s only winless team.

Former NFL receiver Roddy White created a social media stir last week when he suggested that if the Jets held the top pick and he were Lawrence, “I’d just go back” to school.

White said he is related to Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and suggested he might call Elliott and suggest the coach tell Lawrence “if the Jets get the first pick, don’t go. Just stay one more year in college and just enjoy your time because it would be awful for you to get drafted by the New York Jets.”

White’s not the only voice that’s anti-Lawrence to the Big Apple.

Former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson, the No. 1 overall pick with the Jets in 1996 turned ESPN broadcaster, said his former team has a done poor job surrounding current quarterback Sam Darnold with players to improve the offense.

“You drafted a guy three years ago with the third pick in the draft because he was your Trevor Lawrence. He has nothing around him. Nothing,” Johnson said last week on his ESPN morning show.

Whenever Lawrence leaves for the NFL, he’s expected to change a franchise’s fortunes.

He’s thrown for 1,833 yards and 17 touchdowns (tied for second nationally in FBS) this season as Clemson has started 6-0. Lawrence is 31-1 as a starter in college and has the Tigers pointed toward a sixth straight Atlantic Coast Conference title and trip to the College Football Playoff.

Lawrence and the Tigers face Boston College (4-2, 3-2) on Saturday.

Eagles coach Jeff Hafley was Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator when the Tigers defeated the Buckeyes 29-23 in the CFP semifinals last December and sees a player who put in the work to get even better this season.

Hafley said Lawrence is better in the pocket and with his decisions.

“Definitely coming back and improving, it says a lot about him,” Hafley said.

While the Jets have the inside track, there are plenty of other NFL teams that could benefit from having Lawrence on the roster.

That includes the 1-6 Atlanta Falcons, who are less than an hour’s drive from Lawrence’s hometown of Cartersville, Georgia.

Lawrence said he wasn’t a huge NFL fan growing up, although he did pull for the Falcons. He largely laughs off the Twitter posts pushing teams to lose simply to get him in their locker room.

“I try to ignore it as much as possible,” Lawrence said earlier this month. “Obviously, if you’re on social media at all, you can’t help but see some of it. It’s just funny.”

His focus, Lawrence said, remains on Clemson’s success this season and is not worried at the moment about what happens after that.

“No matter where I go,” he said, “whether that’s across the country, whether that’s close to home, whether I stay another year, no matter what it is, we’ll work it out.”

Penn State's Cain out

Penn State running back Noah Cain will miss the rest of the season with an injury, another blow to the 18th-ranked Nittany Lions’ backfield as they prepare to face No. 3 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin declined to give specifics of Cain’s injury, but the sophomore left Saturday’s overtime loss to Indiana early and reportedly was seen on the sideline later with a walking boot on his left foot.

The loss of Cain, who ran for 443 yards and eight touchdowns last year, comes about a week after Penn State announced its leading rusher from last season, Journey Brown, could miss this entire season with an unspecified medical condition.

With Brown out, Cain was expected to take on a larger role. He had one carry for 3 yards in the season opener against Indiana.

Sophomore Devyn Ford ended up being Penn State’s lead back against the Hoosiers, carrying 20 times for 69 yards and a touchdown. Ford scored the touchdown Indiana conceded when it was trying to get the ball back in the final two minutes of regulation.

Freshmen Keyvone Lee and Caziah Holmes combined for 11 carries and 51 yards against Indiana.

Penn State is trying to avoid a 0-2 start when its hosts Ohio State on Saturday night.

COVID hits Conference USA

Two Conference USA games scheduled for the weekend, including No. 19 Marshall at Florida International, have been postponed because of COVID-19 issues.

Marshall was scheduled to play Friday night, but FIU had to call off the game because of a lack of available scholarship players.

North Texas at UTEP on Saturday was called off because a surge in COVID-19 cases in El Paso, Texas, has led to a stay-at-home order in the city.

The four schools said they are working with C-USA to reschedule the games.

The number of games involving FBS teams postponed or canceled since Aug. 26 is up to 36.

For Marshall (5-0), this is the third time this season it has had a game postponed because of an opponent’s struggles with COVID-19. The Thundering Herd did not play a nonconference game against East Carolina and a conference game against Rice in September.

The is the second game FIU (0-3) has had to postpone.

A total of seven Conference USA league games have been postponed.

This is the second time in three weeks UTEP has had to call off a home game. The first postponement was because of COVID-19 issues with Southern Mississippi. In between, the Miners played and lost at Charlotte.