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Clemson Football

Healthy Dexter equals happy Dexter after Lawrence '45-50' percent in 2017

August 10, 2018
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CLEMSON -- Dexter Lawrence was only unhappy for about 15 seconds after Tuesday night’s fourth fall practice.

The interior defensive lineman was asked about giving up some of his favorite foods in order to cut down on his weight. He had mentioned eating is one of his favorite activities, besides playing football and sleeping, so cutting back was difficult but Clemson’s nutritional staff helped him every step of the way.

Lawrence, who has slimmed down to 339 pounds, didn’t want to address that particular subject as he responded in a joking manner. For the rest of the evening, we saw a bit of a different side of the guy they call “Big Dex.”

Dabo Swinney said Friday before Clemson’s first fall practice that Lawrence is probably the “happiest camper” on the team. Tuesday night, we saw that happiness firsthand as Lawrence joked around, laughed, and smiled in his first time talking to the media in months.

It was probably the happiest we’ve seen Lawrence since we’ve started this website. The fact he’s finally 100-percent healthy is the biggest reason why.

As a defensive tackle, Lawrence’s combination of size, strength, and athleticism has helped him become one of the top prospects in college football as he heads into his junior season. But he’s never been this healthy. At least, not since the middle of his freshman season.

“I was about 45-50 percent,” Lawrence said. “I feel much better now… a lot better. I can pick my feet up. It’s not dragging.

“Well he was playing on one leg inside,” Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said of Lawrence’s 2017 season. “There’s not a harder, more physically demanding position to play on the team than defensive tackle, so playing on one leg is a hard thing.”

Lawrence had been battling a foot injury since the 2016 season where he played through it. He had toe surgery last offseason so he couldn’t compete in spring or fall camps. Lawrence continued to push through and battled coming off a foot surgery during the 2017 season, playing in 12 of 14 games.

It was obvious he was never at full strength.

“I was about 45-50 percent,” Lawrence said. “I feel much better now… a lot better. I can pick my feet up. It’s not dragging. Last year, it was dragging a lot and I can feel myself push off of it. I can walk on my toes, do toe raises. I can hang on my toes. I can do a lot of stuff that I really couldn’t do last season.”

Lawrence added that he felt 45-50 percent for the entirety of the 2017 season where he accumulated 39 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three tackles for loss. During his phenomenal freshman campaign, he recorded 62 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 8.5 tackles for loss.

Clemson Sports Talk
Dexter Lawrrence looks to anchor Clemson's defensive line for a third consecutive season.

But still, to be able to put up the numbers Lawrence did in the trenches while playing banged up (and being double teamed) is pretty remarkable. The defensive line was just as dominant.

“Dexter is a guy who he’s not going to tell you he’s hurt unless you really ask him,” Clelin Ferrell said. “Seeing the way he performed last year and just the injuries and things he had to battle through, I mean, it’s really a type of amazing.”

Lawrence said a goal he set for himself this offseason was to be more of a vocal leader. He’s always been a little shy and kept to himself, but according to Christian Wilkins, he’s been able to come out of his shell a lot more. Again, his health may be the biggest reason he’s grown in confidence.

“He’s a guy that is as talented as anybody I have ever seen,” Ferrell said. “There’s not much we can’t ask him to do. There’s nothing that really overwhelms him.”

The expectations for Lawrence this year are the same they always have been: dominate every week. Now that he’s at full strength, there could be a collective gulp from opposing quarterbacks approach what was already one of the best front fours in college football.

“He’s a guy that is as talented as anybody I have ever seen,” Ferrell said. “There’s not much we can’t ask him to do. There’s nothing that really overwhelms him.”

The happiest person besides Lawrence may be Venables, who said a healthy Lawrence could equal more options for depth in the rotation.

“A healthy version of Dexter Lawrence is a very good thing,” Venables added. “It’s like... way different.”

So even though Lawrence had to cut out some foods from his diet, he’s chomping at the bit to get back on the field and compete at the highest level.

Because a 100-percent Big Dex equals a happy Big Dex, and an awful lot of unhappy offensive linemen and quarterbacks.

Discussion from...

Healthy Dexter equals happy Dexter after Lawrence '45-50' percent in 2017

Barnyard Bird
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Buckle up Tiger fans!
The Biggest and Baddest Bird in the Barnyard #CockOfTheWalk - You are not ready!
Lawton Swann
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Staff
No doubt. I've had him projected as the top pick since his first day on campus. Anyone that overlooks a healthy Dexter Lawrence is missing a stud.
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