Alabama vs. Clemson: Trevor Lawrence becomes first true freshman to start and win national title in 33 years

Clemson true freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence took over the starting quarterback job prior to Game 5, and closed out his first season with a bang. The 6-foot-6, 215 pounder led the second-ranked Tigers to a 44-16 win over No. 1 Alabama to claim the program's third national championship and second in three years, and become the first true freshman starting quarterback to lead his team to a national title since Oklahoma's Jamelle Holieway in 1985.

Unlike Holieway, a wishbone quarterback who used his legs as his primary weapon, Lawrence sliced and diced the stout Crimson Tide defense from the moment toe met leather at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. The Cartersville, Georgia, native went 20-of-32 passing for 347 yards and three touchdowns against a defense that came in allowing just 187.6 passing yards per game. He hooked up with fellow freshman Justyn Ross for six times for 153 yards and one score on the night on the night.

Lawrence -- the top recruit in the nation in the class of 2018 and the No. 6 overall prospect since 2000 according to the 247Sports composite -- put on a performance that will go down in college football history as one of the most impressive outings by any quarterback on the game's biggest stage. 

It wasn't by accident, though. 

Former Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant won an ACC title and led them to a berth in the semifinal last season, but couldn't produce in the passing game when it mattered most. Lawrence's work in the first four games of the season while Bryant was still on the roster made it clear that the staff knew they might need him down the road. That led to Bryant's transfer after Game 4, an offense that evolved into one of the nation's best and a national title one calendar year after Lawrence came in with enough hype to fill Death Valley.

Lawrence not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded it. He put on a performance for the ages, and etched his name into college football history as one of the most remarkable first-year players of all time.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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