Clemson teammates Isaiah Simmons, Trevor Lawrence face off in Week 3
TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons is facing the Jacksonville Jaguars for the first time in his NFL career.
There’s one part of the organization the linebacker knows well, however, in Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
While Simmons was in his final two years at Clemson in 2018, Lawrence was just getting started but was already viewed as the Tigers’ next best thing.
It wasn’t until Simmons saw his new teammate in action that he understood the hype.
“I saw the videos of what he was doing in high school and everything,” Simmons after practice Wednesday. “I mean, it’s high school, I kind of expect you to do that, you’re the No. 1 player in the country.
“But then he came into college and did the exact same thing. He quickly won me over realizing that he was a really special player.”
The pair spent two years together at Clemson, winning a national championship along the way. Simmons declared for the 2020 NFL Draft and Lawrence stayed in college another year.
If anyone on the Cardinals is going to have an idea of how Lawrence operates, it’s Simmons — although he hasn’t been asked much on tips regarding the QB. The same can be said for Lawrence on the linebacker.
“The one thing about him is just he’s really dynamic because he’s big, really long and he’s fast and powerful,” Lawrence told reporters Wednesday. “He can kinda do everything.
“He can play in the box, he can play out in the perimeter, chase guys down, pass rush a little bit. He can kinda do it all. That’s one thing, just keep an eye for him. … He’s awesome, great player.”
Sunday marks the first time Simmons will be able to touch Lawrence with more than just a high five, something Lawrence admitted Simmons had wanted to do a few times during their Clemson days.
It’s not every day you get to go up against your college buddy at the NFL level, only adding to Simmons’ focus this week as he prepares for the No. 1 overall pick.
“Like you always talk about, ‘Oh, if I played you, this and that would happen’ and now it’s finally gonna happen,” Simmons said of their conversations in college. “So we’re gonna see who gets the better end of the stick.
“But it’s always fun playing against your friends, it just brings a different level of competitiveness. I’m gonna try not to talk to him because you know, these refs and these new taunting [rules].”