Michael Lawrence's Sweetwater Roots Have Helped Him Grow In Denton
DENTON – Sophomore Michael Lawrence utilizes a razor-sharp focus when he does what he loves. The Mean Green’s leading receiver through the first third of the season has a passion for hunting and playing football. Both require intense concentration and guile.
Lawrence grew up in the small west Texas town of Sweetwater, noted for cotton fields and a bevy of windmills. Not always having a ton of entertainment options at his disposal (the nearest movie theater is in Abilene, roughly 45 minutes away), Lawrence and his friends spend a lot of time hunting. His favorite target? White-tailed deer.
The slot receiver says there’s no doubt that he’s the best hunter on the team. There may be a few in the locker room that have something to say about that claim.
“You’ve got to have a lot of patience in hunting,” Lawrence said. “There’s a lot of time that it takes to make sure everything is set just right. It’s a lot like practicing for football. When I’m out at the range practicing with my bow, it’s the same as running my routes. It’s about repetition and making sure I’m doing them absolutely right to perfect my craft.”
Lawrence is known around the Mean Green’s facility as a technician in route running, so much so that he is nicknamed “The Standard.” He’s hauled in a team-high 16 catches for 243 yards, also a team high, after posting just one for 16 yards as a true freshman. A lot of his growth can be attributed to his relationship with fellow sophomore Mason Fine.
Lawrence recalls looking up Fine on Twitter when he learned that Fine was the quarterback coming in as part of the same class. A quick commonality was discovered when Lawrence dug a bit deeper and learned that Fine also came from a small town. That immediately created a level of comfort, and Lawrence felt like the two would click, which they certainly did.
“Once fall started we had been talking quite a bit and started to become really good friends,” Lawrence said. “Obviously I needed to pick up some things about him on the field, his tendencies, the way he throws and seeing how he thinks out there. Once I had that, it got to the point where we could take a look at the film and the coaches would wonder, ‘wait, how did that happen?’ Mase and I are always on the same page and he knows exactly where I am going to be. It definitely carries over from the practice field to the games.”
Lawrence likens his relationship with Fine to the one he shared at Sweetwater High School with his quarterback of four years, Kaegan Jeffery. And after a little over a year working together, Lawrence sees no limits to what he, Fine and the Mean Green offense can accomplish.
One of the other factors in Lawrence’s quick ascension among the Mean Green receivers is that he ran a nearly identical offense at Sweetwater. How close was the offense to what offensive coordinator Graham Harrell runs in Denton? Graham’s older brother Zac was Lawrence’s offensive coordinator at Sweetwater, and another Harrell brother, Clark, was also on staff as Lawrence’s receivers coach. That eased the transition and provided Lawrence with a leg up in picking up the North Texas offensive system.
“What also helped was being behind a great player like Kenny [Buyers] last year,” Lawrence said. “He gave me a great base to learn. I really worked hard in the summer with coach [Zack] Womack, who helped me get bigger, stronger and faster. Additionally, I am always learning new things each and every day in my meetings with coach [Tommy] Mainord. Learning more and more about the game has made me much more comfortable on the field. During fall camp it felt great being out there with the ones. Coach Mainord is a big influence for me and always pushes me, which I like for a coach to do.”
As the season continues, Lawrence is very proud to be a part of the change of the North Texas football program. Being in head coach Seth Littrell’s first recruiting class and embodying #NewDenton carries a lot of pride. Lawrence knows the team is only scratching the surface of where the program can go, but he is certainly focused, as he is with his bow back in Sweetwater, on enjoying the ride.