Because of issues with his grades, colleges stayed away Lawrence, who is from Carolina High in Greenville, S.C.
But he never let that get him down. He loved football too much to think it had reached its end.
He found the perfect place to resurrect his career at Georgia Military College, which eventually led to a spot in Auburn’s 2014 recruiting class.
“I heard about this combine (at GMC),” the 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive tackle said by telephone. “We got here about 12 and left around 4. And I’d say about a month or two later I got a letter in the mail telling me what to have when I reported to fall camp, and I’ve been here ever since.”
His time in Milledgeville is drawing to a close. Once this semester ends, Lawrence will pack his bags and head to Auburn.
Though he always had a plan to extend his playing career — with the hopes of eventually signing with a major Division I school — Lawrence acknowledged he never fathomed it would unfold like this.
“If you were to tell that I’d be getting ready to play for Auburn next fall or that I was going to commit to Auburn in the summer, if I heard something like that, I’d think you’d be yanking my chain,” he said. “I didn’t see it coming like this. I didn’t see it happening like this.”
What was the biggest factor in Lawrence’s decision to commit to the Tigers last July?
“It just felt like home,” he said. “Mississippi State was under consideration, but Auburn just felt like home. It wasn’t about the business or about how close I was to (my family). I made my choice (based) on what felt like home, what felt like family. Auburn was that place.”
He isn’t the only defensive lineman from GMC set to become a Tiger this year, however. DaVonte Lambert waited until junior college national signing day in December to sign with Auburn, flipping from his original commitment to Tennessee.
Lawrence said he talks with Lambert nearly every day, but didn’t go out of his way to try to convince his teammate to join him on the Plains.
“He made his own decision,” Lawrence said. “We talked about Tennessee, we talked about Auburn, we talked about other schools. We just talked about football. He committed to Tennessee earlier last year, but he still liked Auburn, so he talked to me about it. Then on the day when it was time for him to sign, we talked about it that morning and he ended up picking Auburn.”
When he steps foot on campus, he’s already prepared for his baptism-by-fire that will come with defensive line coach Rodney Garner’s intense personality.
Lawrence said it won’t bother him. Far from it.
Instead, it’s something he’s looking forward to.
“You can’t wear your feelings on your sleeve. You’ve got to be able to take coaching, to take criticism,” he said. “It isn’t like you’re going to get weaker by trying to fix what you’re messing up on. He’s trying to get you to fix your mistakes and critique your game to make it better. I’m just ready to play football.”
Ryan Black covers Auburn for The Anniston Star and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @wareagleextra.