The Tigers' star quarterback said Monday that he's feeling good after a bout with COVID-19 and he expects to return to practice this week. Clemson has an open date Saturday. On the subject of his NFL future, however, Lawrence said he's just trying to leave his options open.
"I'm just trying to enjoy my last few months here if that's what I decide to do," Lawrence said. "I'm just trying to enjoy it and obviously I'm not trying to make a stir. I don't want any more people talking about me than they already are, so my thing is I'm just never going to corner myself to where I have to do something just because of something I said in the past."
Lawrence, a junior, had previously said his intention was to enter the NFL draft at year's end, but last month he backtracked when pressed on the question, saying,"Who knows? There's a lot of things that could happen."
The comments caused an uproar among media and NFL fans wondering whether Lawrence was setting the stage to avoid being drafted by certain teams, including the New York Jets, who currently own the league's worst record.
On Monday, Lawrence said his backtracking had nothing to do with his NFL prospects and everything to do with leaving himself wiggle room should he change his mind about a possible return to school.
"My mindset is the same, but I really don't want to talk about it anymore," Lawrence said. "People want me to say no matter what, for sure I'm leaving school, and that's just not something I'm going to say. That's as simple as it is. I'm never going to corner myself like that, but that's what people want to hear. I want to leave myself opportunities to take everything in and make a decision and obviously I'm not going to say that for sure I'm staying or for sure I'm leaving, and it turns out that caused more of a commotion than if I hadn't said anything."
Lawrence said he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Oct. 28, a result that came as a surprise.
"Since this has all been going on, I haven't been in big groups," Lawrence said. "I try to avoid that. But the way this thing is, you can track it back to so many people and think, I could've gotten it here or here. I've tried to keep my circle tight, but it's hard when people don't know if they have it."
Lawrence said that, upon reflection, he'd had minor symptoms starting that Monday, but had practiced as usual, assuming it was allergies.
By Thursday -- the day after his positive test -- he said his symptoms worsened significantly, and he spent about 48 hours "feeling pretty bad." By the weekend, however, he said he was largely back to normal, though he said he's still experiencing some issues with his sense of taste and smell. His isolation period concluded last Thursday, but ACC requirements for cardiac testing made his return for the Notre Dame game impossible.
Clemson lost to Notre Dame in double overtime, the Tigers' first regular-season defeat since 2017, while backup QB D.J. Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards in Lawrence's absence, an all-time record against the Irish.
Would Clemson's fate have been different had Lawrence been able to play?
"Who knows? Football's such an interesting game. Looking back, D.J. made a ton of plays," Lawrence said. "Who knows how it would've gone if I'd played? I would have loved to have been in there and done everything I can to win the game. But at the same time, D.J. played really well and I was proud of him. He was prepared and did everything he could. So I really don't know, but obviously I would've loved to have been able to play, for sure."
Lawrence said the team remains in good spirits after the loss, and he believes Clemson still has a strong shot at winning a national championship, adding that he's eager to take the lead role once again.
"As a leader just to make sure we're all re-setting after that kind of a game, but just going back to work," Lawrence said. "That's never been an issue here. Just get ready to make that championship run. I'm glad to be back and I'm just excited to be back practicing this week."