Anthony Lawrence: SD local living the college dream at USD
MATTHEW ROBERSON | SPORTS EDITOR | THE USD VISTA | @mroberson22
The role of starting quarterback is one of the most visible in all of sports. On every play the quarterback handles the ball, making him arguably the most important player on the field. Being thrust into that role as a young player can be very daunting. Often times young quarterbacks are hindered by conservative play calls aimed at protecting them, or by their own nervousness that naturally comes with playing in the spotlight.
Anthony Lawrence is not one of these quarterbacks. The redshirt freshman came to the University of San Diego after an outstanding high school career that saw him accumulate over 9,000 passing yards and 96 touchdowns. He holds CIF records for the San Diego section in career passing yards, passes completed, and touchdown passes. A product of Grossmont High School in El Cajon, the young quarterback has continued his success into his collegiate career.
It was a career which started with uncertainty over whether he would even be the starting quarterback for the Toreros. Despite the presence of senior Trey Wheeler and graduate transfer Chris Willson on the quarterback depth chart coming into the season, Lawrence had the belief that he could prove himself as the best of the bunch.
While acknowledging that he didn’t know for sure whether he would win the job, Lawrence knew that he could do something special if handed the reins to USD’s offense.
“I didn’t know for sure [if I would start],” Lawrence said. “I just wanted to compete and work as hard as I can, make the best of the opportunities I got. I definitely wanted to come out and show that I was the best quarterback. To eventually start was basically my goal coming in.”
Not only was he able to meet this goal, he has exceeded all expectations as a first-year starter playing a high-pressure position. His team is 7-1 in the games which he has started. Lawrence came off the bench on Sept. 5 for his first ever snaps as a college quarterback.
That game just happened to be against the crosstown rival San Diego State Aztecs, a Division 1 opponent who plays their home games in an NFL stadium. Lawrence is grateful that the first game action he ever saw came against a team with scholarship athletes.
“It was definitely a different environment as far as size and speed,” Lawrence said. “It was really good to get that game first to get ready and prepare for the rest of the teams.”
For the most part, the rest of those teams have been no match for Lawrence and the Toreros’ high scoring offense. In the eight games that USD has played since losing to SDSU – all games in which Lawrence has started – the offense is averaging an impressive 34.4 points per game. The only loss to a non-Division 1 opponent came over a month ago in a road game against the undefeated Dayton Flyers.
In the first nine games he’s played as a Torero, the 19-year-old Lawrence has thrown for 2,111 yards, 20 touchdowns, and only six interceptions, while completing 65 percent of his passes. This high level of play has the Toreros’ eyes set on winning the last two games of the season and possibly bringing home the Pioneer Football League crown. Lawrence touched on this idea as well as the remarkable success he’s had at such an early stage of his career.
“It’s really good to know that the hard work has paid off for the team,” Lawrence said. “Everyone just comes in and works hard. Hopefully if everything falls our way, [we can] win the PFL. I want to win a game in the playoffs. That would be really exciting for the team.”
Lost in all the hype surrounding his football achievements is the fact that Lawrence is still a student here at USD just like everyone else. In his free time he enjoys going to the beach and watching the NFL on Sunday. He cites quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, who shares his number 18 jersey, as two of his favorite players to watch. Lawrence provided us with a perspective on his college experience at USD.
“It’s a good time being with your friends, and a bunch of people I know live up in the Vistas [with me],” Lawrence said. “So you can walk like a minute and see your friends and hang out. I watch the NFL a bunch. It’s fun to watch what they do and how good they are, and how quick they see everything.”
“I really like my accounting class and professor,” Lawrence said. “[Mark] Judd, he’s super cool. I don’t really know why, I just enjoy it for some reason.”
As a local kid from San Diego county, Lawrence is living his dream. Not only does he get to play quarterback for one of Southern California’s most prestigious universities, but he also gets to share the experience of being a student at our beautiful, one of a kind campus. Oddly enough, Lawrence entertained the idea of leaving the only region he ever knew for the cold and gray of America’s northeast.
“I was looking at Ivy Leagues a little bit, but you can’t really beat San Diego,” Lawrence said. “They [USD] definitely did come after me the hardest. Staying close to home is nice so my family can watch me play.”
When you look past the high school passing records and his virtually instant success leading the Torero attack, you find that Anthony Lawrence is not so different than the average college student.
His decision to come here was based largely on staying close to home, something hundreds of us can relate to. He lives in a cramped dorm room with three other people, where he spends the weekends going to the beach and tuning into the best NFL games of the week.
He has acquired the nickname A-Law, a classic college nickname formed by lazily combining the first letter of his first name with the first syllable of his last name.
The only thing that separates him is that between those trips to the beach and long hours on the couch, he goes and throws touchdowns at Torero Stadium.