football Edit

Keshawn Lawrence says 2020 class is 'legit'

Keshawn Lawrence was an early commit for the Tennessee Volunteers, and one Jeremy Pruitt used to mold this class around.

The in-state four-star safety committed in June of 2019 and helped pave the way for others to follow in the summer months.

“I really didn’t grow up a Tennessee fan, to be honest. I liked Oregon early on because it was flashy and all that,” Lawrence told Volquest. “But I wanted to stay in state because it’s important where you come from.

“I wanted to represent.”

The Ensworth High School product was the third-highest rated player for the Vols in 2020 – checking in just inside the top-100 nationally at No. 97. Quarterback Harrison Bailey (No. 30) and wide receiver Malachi Wideman (No. 56) were the only two Vol signees rated higher.

Lawrence was pegged No. 2 in the state of Tennessee and the fifth-best safety in the nation, per Rivals.

The prospect is the jewel of the Tennessee bunch, a group that grew to 10 signees by the end of the early signing period. The defensive back is versatile and can play all four spots in the secondary – including nickelback.

The new Vol competed at a high level in the mid-state and often crossed paths with Tennessee targets who later went on to join him as part of the signing class.

“I started forming relationships with the guys in my class early on. I competed against a lot of them along the way,” Lawrence said. “This class is legit, man. We feel really good about it moving forward.”

Lawrence has a chance to see significant playing time early because of his versatility. The Vols lost starting safety Nigel Warrior to graduation and depth at cornerback is a question mark for the Vols.

“The plan is for me to start at corner first because it’s easier to grasp, but I’m excited for whatever,” Lawrence projected. “Coach Pruitt and coach [Derrick] Ansley are a great combo and I look forward to learning from them.

“They coached together at Alabama. Coach Ansley played at Troy and has coached at the highest level. They both know what they are doing.”

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound athlete may be the most college-ready prospect the Vols inked during the cycle but knows there’s more to learn right out of the gate.

Lawrence looks forward to playing for Pruitt and reflected on the early relationship the two built and how the coach didn’t fool around during the recruiting process.

“He is 100 and will always tell you straight up,” Lawrence said of his new coach. “He’s hard-nosed and a smart guy. He knows the ins and outs of the game and has a great background with defensive backs.

“That’s a great motivator right there.”

With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, it’s still uncertain when campuses will welcome back student-athletes. The SEC recently extended the in-person on-and-off campus recruiting guideline for coaches through the end of May.

Lawrence planned on reporting during that time for the start of June term. Regardless, the versatile defensive back will be ready when the time comes.

“I knew Tennessee. I knew what they had was real,” Lawrence reflected. “The coaches were always upfront with me and my family. I’m ready to get there.”

Keshawn Lawrence (2020) is ready to learn from Jeremy Pruitt and Derek Ansley
Keshawn Lawrence (2020) is ready to learn from Jeremy Pruitt and Derek Ansley (Rivals.com)

Q & A with Tennessee 2020 Signee Keshawn Lawrence  

What’s on the playlist? “I listen to a lot of everything, really. But there’s a lot of rap on there.”

Favorite football memory? “Probably my sophomore year when I returned my first kick for a touchdown.”

Favorite athlete? “Larry Fitzgerald.”

Favorite subject? “Fitness, but I guess I’ll say history.”

Planned major at UT? “Broadcast communications. I’d also like to maybe cut hair one day.”

Favorite pregame meal? “Chicken.”