Senior wide receiver Mike Lawrence is making the most out of his final days in practice before North Texas’ season finale against Alabama-Birmingham. Throughout his four years in head coach Seth Littrell’s offensive scheme, Lawrence utilized the role of a slot receiver to be a reliable option for quarterback Mason Fine.
Through 11 games this season, Lawrence has as 617 yards receiving, 46 receptions and three touchdowns while filling in his second year as a member of the football leadership council and as one of five team captains. With the injury of junior All C-USA receiver Rico Bussey Jr. early on in the season, Lawrence has continued to be one of the flexible options to execute the offensive plan.
“[Lawrence] sets a standard every day of how to come to work,” Littrell said. “You talk about a mentally tough dude, one that likes getting the ball, and a guy that loves to compete. That’s him.”
The football team has given him the nickname, ‘The Standard’ as an example of how to be a hard worker and be competitive. The former walk-on from Sweetwater, Texas became one of the key offensive playmakers during a three-year stretch between 2017 and 2019, helping Mason Fine earn national attention. In his four years with the Mean Green, Lawrence has amassed 1870 yards receiving, 140 receptions and nine touchdowns.
“His nickname is ‘The Standard’ for a reason, and he’s earned everything he’s got,” Fine said. “I even asked him to come and train with me when everything is over. He’s my workout partner, pushes me beyond my limits and he’s one of my best friends.”
Before coming to North Texas, Lawrence was an all-state wide receiver at Sweetwater High School his senior year with 1,173 receiving yards, 73 receptions and 18 touchdowns. Lawrence also helped his team win the 2-4A district title and advance to the regional round of the Texas 4A Division II UIL State Football Championship.
Despite having Division III offers from Hardin-Simmons and Mary Hardin-Baylor out of high school, Lawrence took a chance with walking on with the Mean Green in 2016. In his sophomore season, he received news from Littrell that a full scholarship was coming his way after all of his hard work the previous season.
“I was at the house one night doing homework and Coach [Littrell] called,” Lawrence said. “We had a pretty long conversation and he told me how proud he was to offer me a full scholarship. It just hit me that all of the hard work and everything else paid off, and it was a good feeling to call and let my family know that I earned a scholarship.”
In his freshman season, he made one catch for 16 yards and appeared in seven games. The next season saw a breakout offensive production in the passing attack which led Lawrence to 819 yards, 62 receptions and four touchdowns in 2017. The next two seasons he would combine for 1,035 yards, 77 receptions and five touchdowns.
During Littrell’s tenure at North Texas, he’s seen a group of core senior players mature and develop over four years to establish a new culture, including Lawrence, Fine, senior defensive end Ladarius Hamilton and Bussey Jr.
“These seniors helped create a culture and a foundation for our practice,” Littrell said. “Year one was not perfect by any means, but we later had the opportunity to play in a bowl game and had back-to-back nine-game winning seasons, including the opportunity to play in a conference championship game. They put in a lot of sacrifice and energy into our program.”
In the remaining practices of the season, Lawrence and other seniors look to find maturity and ownership characteristics from the underclassmen that will eventually take the reins this spring. The seniors hope the tradition and culture that has been set onto the program will follow in the upcoming years.
“We told [the underclassmen] it’s your turn now, you’re no longer the young guys,” Lawrence said. “Now that they’re becoming sophomores, juniors and seniors, it’s their time to step up.”
After every touchdown he scores, Lawrence flashes the numbers three, two and five to represent the Sweetwater 325-area code. Lawrence uses his west Texas hometown family and friends as motivation to work and play hard. No matter the situation, he never wants to forget the town he came from.
“I still keep everyone from there in mind,” Lawrence said. “When I first scored a touchdown it came naturally for me to do that because that’s all we ever knew, just the 3-2-5. It helped put Sweetwater on the map and now everyone knows where it is.”
Featured Image: Senior wide receiver Michael Lawrence sticks an arm out to stop a Mustang defender at the game against Southern Methodist at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019. Image by Jordan Collard