Christian Wilkins -- NFL Draft

Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins moves into NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after the Miami Dolphins selected Wilkins in the first round at the NFL Draft on April 25 in Nashville, Tenn.

CLEMSON — Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence wasted little time endearing himself to his teammates after he was awarded the starting job in week four of the 2018 season.

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Following a stressful September week that saw Lawrence named the starting quarterback and former Tiger quarterback Kelly Bryant leaving the program, it was former Tiger defensive lineman Christian Wilkins who took Lawrence to breakfast.

"Really it was just kind of enjoying a meal. I'll do that for anyone on the team,” Wilkins said after the Tigers’ 27-23 come-from-behind victory over Syracuse. “Any of the young guys, or anyone period, who seems like they have a lot on their plate. A lot of my teammates have done it for me, so I just like to show my teammates that I've got their back regardless of anything.

"We had to hit it early, that's why we went to breakfast -- before anybody was out and about. Some people still saw us, it wasn't that big of a deal. ... I was just on a date with a cute blonde.”

It was after that breakfast that Lawrence decided to pay-it-forward and take his entire offensive line to breakfast.

“He earned the (starting job),” offensive lineman Gage Cervenka said of Lawrence. "It's not like we just gave it to him. He earned up and been working for it. He's a great kid. What shows character with Trevor, he actually took out the offensive line to breakfast … He's a great player. We tell him, ‘Hey you're the guy. You got the keys and just drive the car and let's go.’ We've got his back with everything.”

That “cute blonde” went on to put on a show, as he led the Tigers to an undefeated 15-0 season that culminated in a 44-16 beatdown of the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Lawrence also completed 259-397 passes for 3,280 yards with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions as well as 60 carries for 177 yards and a touchdown in 768 snaps in 15 games (11 starts).

And he will enter the 2019 season as the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

However, even with all of the publicity that the long-haired quarterback garners, according to Wilkins, he has not changed.

“He’s as cool as he can be, and I feel like that’s just a testament to — there’s a reason he’s been so successful already in his time just because he’s so nonchalant, just so laid back, so cool, just wants to play the game, just loves the game,” Wilkins said in a radio interview with Jim Rome. “(He’s) always appreciative of his opportunities, but he’s just a cool customer.”

Regardless of the expectations on Lawrence heading into the season, Wilkins believes the fans need not worry because he has the right mindset to not let the outside noise effect him.

“There’s people in life who are low maintenance or high maintenance. He’s really like no maintenance,” Wilkins said. “He’s just like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ He just does his job, shows up, does everything you ask, and he’s a special kid, off the field and just on the field too. You can see that arm — the way he can sling it, the way he can throw it around. That special talent speaks for itself.”

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia.


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