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Justin Fields of Ohio State and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson are two names that have been connected for as long as football fans can remember.  Even since their High School days, the two were entwined in conversations about either of them.  It seems as though the two quarterbacks will always be compared and contrasted, never one without the other.

Both players hail from Georgia, living in the suburbs of Atlanta, with roughly 20 miles between them.  According to 247 Sports, Lawrence and Fields rank as the 6th and 8th best recruits of all time respectively.  It seems like more than just coincidence that two of the players who will eventually become the faces of football came from effectively the same place at the same time.

This rivalry had essentially been just on paper, as the players had yet to face off on the same field against each other. However, this changed in a hurry in their sophomore years in college.  Both stars had led their teams to the College Football Playoff, and the committee had elected to face them off against each other in the Fiesta Bowl.  The matchup between the two kids from Georgia had finally become a reality.

It took them far different paths to get to this point, yet they were still here.  Lawrence started halfway through his freshman season, leading Clemson to an undefeated National Championship season.  Fields’ first season at the college level had gone a lot differently, as he rarely played behind Jake Fromm at Georgia, and eventually decided to transfer to The Ohio State University.  Despite the differences in their journeys, Lawrence and Fields had both solidified themselves as two of the best players in the nation.

Clemson got the better of Ohio State in the matchup, leading to an eventual blowout loss to LSU in the National Championship.  Regardless, the Fiesta Bowl really could have gone either way, and some questionable rulings significantly affected the result. Going into their Junior seasons, both teams were widely considered 1-2 in the country, with top analysts split on whether the Tigers or Buckeyes would have a better season.

However, none of this is new information.  What is new is the coronavirus pandemic.  At this point, it may just seem like our lives from now on, but it has totally changed a lot of the narratives involving this player rivalry.  The debate between Clemson and OSU, and between Lawrence and Fields, seems like it will never have an answer.  At this point, the Big Ten has canceled the 2020 season, meaning Ohio State will not get to play any games this year.

And yet, the ACC has decided to go forward with the season, although things will look noticeably different than usual.  Still, after the events of the last few months, ‘different’ is simply what life is.  There have been preliminary talks for a conference switch for just this season for the Buckeyes, but at this point, nothing is set.

It’s just a really tough situation all around.

It is especially tough for those players who were going to get their long-awaited opportunity this season.  Fields and Lawrence clearly don’t fall into this category.  They are proven ballers, winners, playmakers, and any other descriptor you want to use to describe their unbelievable football talent.  They are the two players who need this season less than anybody, and yet, they are the ones fighting the hardest.

Lawrence is looking at being the number 1 pick, while Fields will also find himself near the top 5 come draft time.  They have nothing left to prove.  Nevertheless, they are just proving even more that they are leaders who can inspire change.

Fields started a petition just days ago that already has nearly 300,000 (!!!) signatures.  Both players have also been extremely vocal on Twitter, Lawrence especially.  It is great to see them fight for this cause, not because it helps them, but because it helps their brothers.  They both have teammates who need this season to show everyone how good they really are.

The love for the game is extremely strong with these two, and that’s why football is in such good hands going into the future.

Hitch your wagon to Lawrence or Fields, or even both.  They are definitely great players, and more importantly, great people.

Photo: David Petkiewicz