Just a freshman at Memphis (Tenn.) Harding Academy, the class of 2018 offensive lineman has already turned plenty of heads in the football world. He’s earned praise from top recruiting analysts, he’s visited some of the top programs and camps in the nation, and he’s picked up honors ranging from an invite to play for Team USA’s Under-15 team to youth All-America laurels.
But not much could have prepared Lawrence for the reality of past week, a span in which he’s earned offers from College Football Playoff combatants Ohio State and Alabama to push his early offer total into double digits.
“It’s crazy,” he told BuckeyeSports.com. “I use it as motivation to get me to work even harder. It’s just such an honor to get offered by these big-time schools with such amazing traditions and everything.”
Those schools join Cincinnati, Duke, Florida Atlantic, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, TCU and West Virginia in offering the 6-4, 265-pound lineman, he reported. He’s no stranger to the upper reaches of college football, as he camped this summer at such schools as OSU, Texas, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Baylor.
Lawrence has a simple reason for so many early trips – an unceasing desire to keep improving at his trade now that he’s already earned a starting role on his varsity squad.
“I was doing that to get better,” he said of taking so many camp trips. “I’m always working to be the best that I can. I’ve had lots of fun at all the places. Overall, it’s been a great time.”
He’s one of a handful of 2018 prospects to already boast an offer from the Buckeyes, including freshman phenom Ricky Slade of Woodbridge (Va.) Hylton, a prep teammate of 2015 commit Matthew Burrell, and safety Tyreke Johnson of Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian. One of Lawrence’s early visits was to an Ohio State camp in June, so the Buckeyes are at least on his radar.
“I had a great time there,” he said of that trip.
Of course, with Lawrence still in his freshman year of high school, he’s a long way away from making any recruiting decisions. He’s just going to keep enjoying the process, and he does hope to take some more visits once 2015 dawns.
The recruiting attention is nice, but Lawrence – who started playing flag football in first grade and says the sport has “always been a part of me” – knows that he can’t rest on his laurels. In fact, the early honors just make him realize what he’s capable of if he keeps his nose to the grindstone.
“It motivates me to work a whole lot harder because I know that I have the potential,” he said. “Schools have offered me so now I’m just working to be as good as I can be, get stronger and faster.”