THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
With the Super Bowl in the books thoughts inevitably turn to the NFL Draft, to be held on the last weekend in April, and the elite College players that will hope to be one of 257 players chosen and potentially have their lives change forever. Over the last 18 months one player has emerged as the next superstar number one pick. Trevor Lawrence the quarterback out of Clemson has made the expression “Tanking for Trevor” common for those teams that have fallen on bad times over the season just finished and the stars seemed to have aligned. Jacksonville Jaguars found themselves as the team to have the worst record, and therefore the first pick in 2021. They relived head coach Doug Marrone after four years in charge, and hired successful, if controversial, Urban Meyer. The coach knows the collegiate scene inside and out having led Florida and Ohio State to National Championships.
This past week Lawrence held his own individual Pro Day, ahead of Clemson’s scheduled day of March 11. This was not something that the Jags were overly keen on seeing that the number one elect QB is scheduled to have surgery on a damaged labrum (cartilage) in his left shoulder.
Meyer gave Lawrence some calculated choices, as he told NFL Network’s Jane Slater:
“Number one, you can wait until the March 11 Pro Day (Clemson), but now your recovery is getting near August. The second choice, you can not throw. He’s probably a good enough player, he could’ve said ‘I’m not doing it’. Or third choice, I said, “Why don’t you just grab a ball and throw for a little bit?” And he said, “Let’s go!”. Next thing I know we’re here at a Pro Day that they put together. That’s a guy that loves football and is confident in his ability.”
Being a Pro Day, all teams were inclined to send scouts and even though it’s odds-on that Meyer will select Lawrence to lead the Jaguars revival, it’s good to know just how well the young passer is progressing. He threw a total of 52 passes, and even though it’s a pass and catch routine everyone was impressed.
“It’s like watching Steph Curry shoot a basketball. Who doesn’t like to watch that?” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. On the day, the 21-year-old was a little shorter and lighter than his “official” listed detail at Clemson. Instead of 6 foot 6 he was 6”5 and 5/8 and weighed in at 213lbs instead of 220. Small details but ones that scouts look for. Lawrence is still, though, very much in the range of an elite prospect, and with a handspan of 10 inches he will have no issues handling the football.
Later this week sees the return of the SheBelieves Cup. Now a permanent tournament on the women’s soccer schedule it’s become a familiar format, but there are a couple of new teams competing this year. Canada and Argentina are the newcomers, with Brazil making up the numbers - their only other appearance was in 2019 when they finished last in the group of four teams.
No one has won the Cup back-to-back in its five-year history, France and England splitting wins by the host nation since its inception in 2016. All games will be held at the Exploria Stadium in Orlando, which has a capacity of 25,500 and is home to the Orlando Pride (NWSL) and Orlando City SC (MLS). Matches will take place in the form of double headers each day, and no travel between games has been ordered to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.
Vlatko Andonovski, the coach who has won all 13 of his matches in charge of USWNT, has named an experienced squad. 17 of his players are based in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), with the other six making up the 23 strong roster plying their trade in Europe. Four of these play in England and have only joined their training camp this past weekend. Abby Dahlkemper, Rose Lavelle, and Samantha Mewis play for Manchester City, as well as Christen Press from Manchester United.
“We will hit the ground running in Orlando with most of our roster and will get some great work in the first part of camp before we start focusing on the games once all the European-based players arrive. I think we made a lot of progress on and off the field during the January camp and games. We want to continue to test different players in tough environments. Each game will present its own unique challenges and the matches are not only a step up in competition from January, but as I’ve said before, are extremely valuable as a test run for group play at the Olympics,” said Andonovski after naming his squad at the end of last month.
After comprehensive wins last month, the USWNT will hope for tougher competition. They beat Colombia 4-0. A hat-trick by Mewis was followed up with a 6-0 rout of the same opposition, with veteran leader Megan Rapinoe grabbing two goals. Both games were played on the same site as the upcoming tournament so they will be well used to their surroundings.
This year’s SheBelieves Summit was held on February 11-12 and is part of the ongoing commitment of US Soccer to help grow the Women’s game at home and across the world. The summit provided college students and other industry leaders to gain valuable insights through workshops and panels hosted by some of the game’s leading players, Aby Wambach, Cindy Parlow Cone and Danielle Slaton to name just three. Other incentives such as the SheBelieves Hero and SheBelieves Online Academy are giving young girls and women hope and inspiration not just in soccer and sport but beyond.
18 February – Brazil v Argentina; USA v Canada
21 February – USA v Brazil; Argentina v Canada
24 February – Canada v Brazil; USA v Argentina