The Cub Report: A look at UH football signee DL Garfield Lawrence
If defense is what wins championships, then Houston’s 2021 recruiting class is certainly built to compete.
Eleven of the Cougars’ 19 incoming recruits play on the defensive side of the ball, and each of them will be tasked with contributing in one way or another from the moment they step onto campus.
Included in that class is Garfield Lawrence, a defensive lineman from Tyler Legacy High School in Tyler.
Lawrence was rated by ESPN as the 70th ranked player in the state of Texas last season and comes to UH after initially verbally committing to Kansas.
On Jan. 28, Lawrence announced his decision to flip his commitment and become a Cougar.
With the second-highest scout grade among all incoming freshmen, expectations for Lawrence’s collegiate career will be high from day one at UH.
Defensive line coach Brian Early has done a solid job at helping to mature players in his position group dating back to his time at Arkansas State, and what he can — or can’t — do with Lawrence will be on display in the next couple of seasons.
Luckily, Lawrence already has the foundation to one day evolve into a quality player for the Cougars. With the right amount of coaching and physical development, Lawrence should be able to contribute right away in either live-action game scenarios or simply at practice.
Here is The Cub Report on Garfield Lawrence:
Size and length
Lawrence is listed as 240 pounds and 6 feet, 4 inches tall, but the way that he uses his arms makes him seem even bigger.
As a pass rusher, Lawrence does a crafty job at freeing his hands away from offensive linemen and deflecting passes or forcing the quarterback out of the pocket.
Lawrence has the frame of a player who seldomly finds themselves outright undersized in any matchup.
He is usually able to use his length as an advantage against blockers with shorter arms, keeping them at a nice distance until the play develops enough for him to make a move.
With the UH football team, expect Lawrence to put on more weight and play primarily as a defensive end with his hand in the dirt. Tasked with stopping the run on most plays, he stood up and played as a linebacker several times during his senior season.
Tyler Legacy lined up in a 3-4 defense for most of the year, and Lawrence played mostly as a five-technique, protecting the B and C gaps.
His natural athleticism allowed him to contain the outside against the run, and his most effective pass-rushing came from that same side. Lawrence had seven sacks on the season.
The jury is still out on what slot Lawrence will settle into at the next level, but he certainly can try his hand at multiple positions.
Lawrence does a good job at understanding his assignments and sticking to them. He’s football-smart and is incredibly patient in regards to waiting for plays to develop, an attribute many young defensive linemen tend to lack.
When turnovers are forced, Lawrence does an excellent job at turning into a blocker for his teammates, and his hustle and motor shine.
Room for improvement
Lawrence’s tackling form is nowhere close to the level necessary to bring down much stronger offensive players at the next level.
He tends to rely on his upper body and often attempts to tackle opponents using only his arms.
If Lawrence is tasked with more assignments that include rushing the passer in college, he will need to develop at least one reusable move that he can rely on versus linemen with a higher level of skill.
Size and strength will not be on Lawrence’s side as much in college, and he won’t be able to rely solely on charging through weaker offensive linemen on plays directly behind them.
Lawrence has room to grow, but if he buys into his development, there is no reason why he cannot do just that.
With offers from Colorado, Syracuse, Kansas State and Tulane, Lawrence could have gone anywhere to blossom his skillset.
In the tweet announcing his commitment to the UH football team, Lawrence thanked several Houston coaches.
It will now be up to Lawrence to listen and learn under those same coaches moving forward to reach his maximum potential.