Which Players Have Supported the 'We Want to Play' NCAA Movement?

Several college football stars, including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his Ohio State counterpart Justin Fields, have publicly declared their desire to play in the upcoming season, despite concerns related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A day after the Mid-American Conference decided to postpone football and all other fall sports until the spring of 2021, commissioners from the Power 5 conferences—the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten and Southeastern Conference—held an emergency meeting on Sunday night to determine the fate of the upcoming college football season, which is scheduled to begin at the end of the month.

With cases of COVID-19 still spreading rapidly across the U.S., there are growing concerns among college football officials that the season won't get underway as planned and may have to either be postponed until the spring or canceled altogether.

On Sunday, ESPN reported the majority of Big Ten presidents would vote in favor to postpone the season, while a number of the sport's most high-profile players made clear they firmly stood in the opposite camp.

In a series of tweets, Lawrence said he felt players would be safer within their college programs instead of being back home.

"People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don't play," the Clemson signal caller wrote. "Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract COVID-19."

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Lawrence, a Heisman hopeful for the 2020 season and touted as possible No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft next year, then added football was a safe haven for several players dealing with difficult situations.

"The players coming from situations that are not good for them/ their future and having to go back to that. Football is a safe haven for so many people. We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football," he continued.

"Having a season also incentivizes players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we've seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions."

In a subsequent tweet, Lawrence, who led Clemson to the national title in 2019, shared a statement in which players called for "mandated health and safety procedures against COVID-19" to be established and to be given the chance to opt out of the season, as NFL players were allowed to until last week's deadline.

Fields shared the same statement on social media, as did University of Miami quarterback Deriq King and Alabama running back Najee Harris among others.

Each player added the #WeWantToPlay hashtag at the end of their statements, following the example set by a separate movement of players from the Big Ten and other conferences, who last week made similar requests by using the #WeAreUnited hashtag.

The latter show of support began after a movement of approximately 400 Pac-12 players published a list of demands early last week and warned they would consider sitting out practice and potentially even games if conference executives weren't willing to address their concerns.

The two movements swiftly merged on Sunday, with Lawrence, Fields, King and Clemson running back Darien Rencher taking part in a conference call which also included Stanford defensive lineman Dylan Boles, one of the players who organized the Pac-12 movement.

"We got down to talking and agreed that both of our goals are aligned with each other," Boles was quoted as saying by ESPN. "We all want to play this year. We just want to make sure players have a say in this thing."

Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard, Washington State defensive lineman Dallas Hobbs and Utah's offensive lineman Nick Ford were also on the call, along with Oregon's quartet of Penei Sewell, Johnny Johnson III, Jevon Holland and Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds, who helped organize the Big Ten movement, also connected with Boles and said the movement was a much-needed development.

"There's been a sense that this is something groundbreaking and something we feel is long overdue," he explained. "I guess now it's finally being done."

Justin Fields, Ohio State
Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes attempts a pass against the Clemson Tigers in the second half during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty
Which Players Have Supported the 'We Want to Play' NCAA Movement? | Sports