WAKE FOREST – Somewhere Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s dancing coach, is dabbing. Four hundred miles away, Dexter Lawrence in the reason why.
Lawrence, the Wake Forest High School senior defensive tackle and top recruit in North Carolina, picked up a Clemson hat, officially announcing his intentions to play for the Tigers. Lawrence, a 5-star recruit who had 91 tackles his senior season, picked Clemson over North Carolina State, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio State, Southern California and Alabama.
With the seven hats spread out across a table, and Lawrence flanked by family and coaches, someone turned down the lights in the Wake Forest auditorium. When the lights came back on, Lawrence stood on stage proudly displaying his new headgear – an orange Clemson hat. And of course, he hit the dab.
Lawrence said he knew sometime last week it would be Clemson, currently the No. 1 team in the land, because “it felt like home.”
That has to sting to the Wolfpack, who hosted Lawrence last weekend, considering the University is right up the road from Wake Forest.
“It came down to State, Alabama and Clemson,” Lawrence said. “It was hard because, you know, State, they’re the home team. I could have been a hometown hero and all the other things. I got the feel, but it wasn’t as good as the feel I got at Clemson.”
Lawrence, who had 13 sacks as a senior, is the Tigers 15th commitment in the class of 2016, and the second defensive lineman.
One of the most sought out players in North Carolina history, Lawrence won’t make Clemson wait long to see what he can do. He will enroll early after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 9th.
“I think that Dexter will be an impact player,” Wake Forest defensive line coach Blake Brooks said. “He wants to be great. Not only in being a great football player, he also wants to be a great student and a great person.”
The 6-foot-5, 305 pound Lawrence had to be swayed away from the basketball court as a freshman. Once Brooks and Wake Forest head coach Reggie Lucas laid eyes on Lawrence, they convinced him to focus mainly on football (he still started for three years on the varsity basketball team) knowing the sky was the limit.
“He turned it around,” Brooks said. “He is one of the greatest kids I’ve ever seen and ever coached on the high school level.”
Because of that, Lawrence was on the wish list for many college coaches. He took one last official visit to North Carolina State over the weekend, just to “weigh the pros and cons” but he was sold on Clemson.
He said it was “all about the feel” when he took his visits. In recent years the top players in North Carolina have ditched the ACC for SEC schools, the higher profiled football conference. That didn’t matter to Lawrence.
“ACC, SEC stuff didn’t really come to me like that,” he said. “I just wanted to go where I got the best feel. I felt like I had a better plan at Clemson.”
— Dear Old Clemson (@DearOldClemson) December 14, 2015