Dexter Lawrence, Wake Forest High’s 6-foot-5, 312-pound football defensive lineman, is an impressive guy.
He is also the most impressive high school football player in the nation, according to Rivals.com, one of the major Internet recruiting sites.
Rivals listed Lawrence the No. 1 prospect in the country Monday, bumping him up an unprecedented 12 spots from its final 2014 rankings to its 2015 preseason list.
Lawrence will be the first defensive tackle to ever be Rivals’ top recruit if he keeps that position.
But you’d not know that by watching Lawrence maneuver in the school halls.
“He doesn’t walk around like he’s the man,” said Wake Forest coach Reggie Lucas. “His mom (Julia Parker) is doing a great job keeping him grounded. He is getting all of this national attention and these scholarship offers, but he is the same person that he has been. He still is working hard.”
Lucas said Lawrence is tremendously focused in the weight room and on the field.
Lawrence can bench press almost 400 pounds, power clean 325 and basically squat as much as the bar can hold. He also carries a GPA above 3.0.
“He just carries himself professionally. He is not caught up in all the national attention,” Lucas said.
Neither is his younger brother Devon Lawrence, who was a freshman running back in 2014 for the Cougars and is showing up on national listings, too.
“Their mother must be sitting down with those boys every night and helping them keep their focus,” Lucas said.
Mike Farrell, Rivals.com national recruiting director, said no other player has ever jumped as many spots to be No. 1 but that Lawrence has earned the attention.
“We saw him in January, we saw him again in April, and he continually improves,” said Farrell. “He has been tremendous the last two years and he is getting better. He is bigger, stronger, faster and more agile than he was in January.”
Farrell said that Lawrence can continue to improve.
“He is a man-child,” Farrell said. “He is learning things that he needs to do.”
Farrell said he doesn’t believe any other North Carolina high school athlete has ever been ranked the nation’s top prospect.
“Is he the best high school player ever in North Carolina? I can’t say,” Farrell said. “But he is a very impressive player in person or on film.”
Lawrence helped lead Wake Forest High to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA championship game the past two years. The Cougars allowed 14 points per game in 2014 and finished 15-1.
Lucas said he didn’t know what to say about having the nation’s top prospect.
“Speaking for Wake Forest High School, we are proud of Dexter and what he has accomplished,” Lucas said. “He makes us proud.”