Trevor Lawrence, the star quarterback at top-ranked Clemson and a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy, has tested positive for coronavirus, the university said Thursday night.
Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement that Lawrence was “doing well with mild symptoms” but that he would miss Saturday’s home game against Boston College. Perhaps more crucially for the race toward the College Football Playoff, Swinney did not say when Lawrence had tested positive or when he had developed symptoms — distinctions that could determine whether he would be eligible to play at No. 4 Notre Dame on Nov. 7.
“While we certainly will miss Trevor, this is an opportunity for other guys to step up and we’re excited about competing against a very good B.C. team on Saturday,” Swinney said.
In a post on Twitter late Thursday, Lawrence said that his symptoms had been “relatively mild” and that “the only thing that hurts is missing an opportunity to be with my teammates this weekend and play the game I love.”
Surrounded by formidable talents like Travis Etienne, a tailback, and Amari Rodgers, a wide receiver, Lawrence has been among the most electrifying signal callers in college football in recent years. He passed for more than 3,600 yards last season, when he steered Clemson back to the national championship game a year after it had won the title.
And just a few months ago, he was a leading figure in the #WeWantToPlay movement that urged college sports executives to mount a football season during the pandemic. In a nod at Lawrence’s fame, President Trump later spoke with the quarterback, a junior who could be among the most coveted players in next year’s N.F.L. draft.
Although Clemson (6-0) will remain favored against Boston College (4-2) on Saturday, its prospects at Notre Dame (5-0) will be diminished if Lawrence is still unavailable.
Under the medical protocols for the Atlantic Coast Conference, of which Clemson is a member, a player who tests positive for the virus is required to isolate for at least 10 days.
“A student-athlete’s medical treatment will be determined by institutional medical staff, and be considered unavailable for training, team/group activities or game play until the student-athlete has both completed necessary isolation and had a medical clearance by team physicians,” the league’s medical policy says.
Last Friday, when Clemson’s athletic department most recently released data about its coronavirus testing, the university in Clemson, S.C., said seven of its student-athletes had tested positive over the previous week. Now, given Lawrence’s result, at least 138 Clemson student-athletes have tested positive since June 1.
The announcement from Swinney was just the latest troubling news in a turbulent college football season marked by conferences’ shifting their decisions about whether to proceed and, since late August, the postponement or cancellation of more than three dozen games involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
On Wednesday, Wisconsin canceled its game at Nebraska after at least 12 people, including six players and Coach Paul Chryst, tested positive for the virus. (The university said Thursday that three more people associated with the football program had since tested positive, and it remained unclear whether the Badgers’ next game, a Nov. 7 matchup with Purdue, would happen.)
Just over two weeks ago, Alabama, one of Clemson’s most familiar foes on the sport’s biggest stages, said that Coach Nick Saban had tested positive. Within a few days, Alabama’s medical staff determined that Saban’s result had been a false positive and, under a recent Southeastern Conference policy, allowed him to exit isolation early and coach a game against Georgia.
The A.C.C. has no such protocol.