Before Clemson’s star freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence could lead the Tigers to a national championship — which he did Monday night throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns against Alabama — he learned from former Arizona quarterback Ron Veal.
Veal, known around Atlanta as the “Quarterback Whisperer”, is a quarterback coach in that area who started to train Lawrence in weekly hour-long training sessions when Lawrence was in middle school at 14 years old.
Veal, who also trained Georgia freshman Justin Fields, told Sports Illustrated in an article last month, that he focused on Lawrence’s lower half (base and foot movement) because he felt Lawrence’s arm was perfect.
“Whoever takes credit for the arm, it’s a flat-out lie,” Veal told SI. “He’s a natural thrower.”
The article also states that former UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer, a Veal protégé who is now on Yale’s staff, helped train Lawrence with Veal.
Lawrence, of Cartersville, Ga., went 20-of-32 passing for big chunks of yards against an Alabama defense that allowed only 187.6 passing yards per game. He hooked up with fellow freshman Justyn Ross, who made highlight-reel catches, six times for 153 yards and one touchdown.
Lawrence was the top recruit in the nation in the class of 2018 and the No. 6 overall prospect since 2000, according to the 247Sports composite. He is the first true freshman to start and win the national championship game since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1985.
Veal, recruited out of Fernandina Beach (Fla.) by Dick Tomey to run the run-and-shoot offense in Tomey’s first season of 1987, knows about early success in a college career.
He was the youngest to start as a true freshman under Tomey in the fourth game of the 1987 season after SMU transfer Bobby Watters broke his thumb in Week Three at UCLA.
He started the rest of that season and most of the next three years afterward. He was a dual-threat quarterback at Arizona completing 197 of 441 passes for 2,867 yards in his career with 18 interceptions and 13 touchdown passes while running for 1,419 yards on 462 carries.
Veal saw a lot of promise from Lawrence when the young quarterback was in the seventh grade.
“I didn’t know of him, I just knew when I started working with him, that he was going to be special,” Veal told Rivals.com after Lawrence committed to Clemson after his junior season in high school last year.
“His release was clean, his drops (in the pocket) were getting there, but when a kid can throw the ball like that in the seventh and eighth grade, it’s a God’s gift.”
Veal said he continued to work with Lawrence “throughout the year on different occasions,” when Lawrence starred at Cartersville High School.
“He is a young man with tremendous focus and an ability to lead,” Veal said. “His accuracy and ball placement along with his ability to move in the pocket allows him to make throws other kids can’t make.
“He has the ability to make any throw in the book. He has the ability to lead and he takes coaching well. That’s the main thing.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.