From the time he was eight-years old Shaq Lawson dreamed of playing professional football. He dreamed about being a part of NFL draft day and walking the stage with a team's cap on his head and holding up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. On Thursday night those dreams became reality. Going to a team that may serve to be one of most comfortable transitions for a college player in recent memory might prove to be another dream come true for Lawson.
The Bills first-round pick walks into an environment that might offer the most support of any NFL club for Clemson players. Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan isn't shy about supporting the college program that has his son Seth on the roster. He even wore a Clemson helmet to a press conference last season.
Bills GM Doug Whaley joked about how they help Clemson re-stock their college roster after making Lawson the second first-round pick from the school for the Bills in the last three drafts.
"In Buffalo we're the leading recruiters for Clemson," Whaley said. "We've got to keep them stocked with players and the way to do that is to draft their guys high."
Lawson said he was much more relaxed in the interviews he had with the Bills than other teams. He felt he had a firm grasp of what to expect from Ryan during his pre-draft meeting in Orchard Park.
"It was the best pre-draft meeting I had," Lawson said. "Everybody else's meeting was up tight, asking you who the fourth president was. When I went into that meeting room I just felt laid back. Talking to me about football and things like that."
Having a former Clemson teammate in Sammy Watkins on Buffalo's roster as well as safety Jonathan Meeks has Lawson at ease knowing he'll see some familiar faces in his new NFL locker room.
"You've got two guys up there from Clemson just being in the program and it's going to help me out when I get up there," he said.
That's why when he was surprisingly still sitting on the board after 15 picks Lawson was pulling to be available to the Bills as much as they were hoping he'd last until pick 19.
"It's amazing me going to Buffalo," Lawson told Buffalobills.com. "I knew I was still sitting there and I was going to be happy to go to Buffalo. I was like, 'Please help Buffalo grab me.'"
"Very few times that you can go into a draft and have a really big need and that guy there standing out like a sore thumb," said Whaley. "We never thought he'd drop to us at 19. It came together and it was perfect for us. I can't say anymore, but we're ecstatic. We're elated and we can't wait to get him in the building and start working with him."
So for a kid from Central, South Carolina, who has only known football in his home state, he may not have been able to find a better second home than Buffalo, New York.
"Man Buffalo feels like home to me," said Lawson. "So I am glad that Buffalo picked me. I just feel like I at home with them. They use the same term, 'All in' like we did at Clemson. Same meaning and everything, so I'm just happy."
Photos of Buffalo Bills first-round draft pick Shaq Lawson on his first day at One Bills Drive.