ANTHONY LAWRENCE RETURNS TO HIS ROOTS
Spend any amount of time with former USD standout quarterback Anthony Lawrence ‘19 (BACC), and it becomes readily apparent how much football means to him. From pick-up games in front of his childhood home in La Mesa, California, to playing for championships as the starting quarterback for the Panasonic Impulse in Japan’s pro football league, football has given Lawrence the chance to push his limits and expand his horizons.
“Going to Japan was an awesome experience, and one that was really important for me,” he says. “I knew how much I loved football, but being so far away from everything you know has its challenges. I tried to get everything I could out of it.”
Now, another football-related opportunity is presenting itself much closer to home and Lawrence can barely contain his excitement. “I’ve accepted the job as receivers coach for USD, and I can’t believe how fortunate I am,” he says, then breaks into an ear-to-ear grin. “To be back at USD where I’ve had some of my most memorable moments on the field and off, it’s … well, can you tell how pumped up I am?”
From 2015-18, he established himself as one of the most prolific signal-callers in USD football history and remains the program’s all-time leader in passing yards (12,628) and touchdowns (120). With Lawrence as starter, USD went 31-1 and annexed four Pioneer League Football titles. Pretty good for someone who wasn’t even sure he’d make the team at USD, let alone lead one of the most successful runs in the program’s history.
“I had a lot of success in high school playing quarterback, and I thought I’d be able to walk on and be the starter from day one. Wrong,” he recalls. “I was the fourth-string quarterback on our depth chart, and I wasn’t even sure if I had a future with the program. They had me playing receiver on the scout team, and I had never played receiver before. It was tough.”
But Lawrence dug in his heels and worked to refine his craft. There may have been other quarterbacks on the squad who better fit the physical prototype the coaches were looking for, but Lawrence was, and is, a student of the game. He used his knowledge and know-how to fight his way to the top of the USD depth chart and stay there. The rest is history.
“I remember my first game where I started; we were playing San Diego State at Qualcomm,” he recalls. “For some reason, I didn’t feel that much pressure. I felt confident in my ability and was amped to play in front of such a big crowd. It all felt really natural.”
While he’ll always have a place in the USD record books, his focus now has shifted to what he can provide from the sidelines. Learning the new responsibilities tied to his new position has been a challenge, but it’s one Lawrence has run with — literally.
“As a quarterback, you need to know the routes of all the receivers on each play, so it really hasn’t been that hard to get used to coaching those routes,” he says. “I’ll even try and run a few with them so they know I’m legit, but man, these guys are so fast! I think I’ll stick to staying on the sidelines.” — Mike Sauer