DUNCAN — DeShaun Watson made a quick weekend trip to the state he plans on dazzling for the next four years.
The Gainesville High (Ga.) quarterback participated in the Palmetto State Showdown, held at Beech Springs Intermediate School, leading his team to a 7-5 record and to the second round of the elimination portion of the 7-on-7 tournament.
Watson (6-foot-3, 186 pounds) has been committed to the Tigers since February of last year. He sent a bit of a scare through the Clemson community when he secretly visited Auburn late last month. He said there’s no reason for Tigers’ fans, Clemson that is, to give it a second thought.
“It’s just a town atmosphere,” Watson said. “It’s a family atmosphere, and I love that in a small town. I love the coaches and the program and the academics. I’m 100 percent all in.”
Clemson fans can’t be blamed for the short-lived scare after the kind of numbers Watson put up last year. He completed 305 passes for 4,024 yards and 50 touchdowns without an interception, and rushed 221 times for 1,441 yards and 24 touchdowns to lead Gainesville to its first 5A state championship. Watson has thrown for 108 touchdowns with six interceptions, and rushed for another 40 during his three-year career. He is rated by Rivals.com as the nation’s No. 12 overall prospect.
Watson is being tabbed by many as the next in line to replace Clemson record-breaking quarterback Tajh Boyd after this season. Watson said he’s impressed by what Boyd has been able to do during his career, and has created a friendship with him.
“They have a running quarterback, and I can do all kind of things and show my skills off in that kind of offense,” he said. “(Tajh and I) were together yesterday hanging out. We communicate and text each other and call each other. We check and see how we’re doing all the time. We have a real good bond and relationship. Talking with him is a good experience.”
Watson expects to play when he gets to Clemson but knows that immediately stepping under center won’t be as easy as many fans expect it to be. He expects beating out contenders such as Cole Stout and Chad Kelly will be difficult.
“I’m just going to come in and compete,” he said. “It’s an open job. Chad and Cole have never started, but they are pretty good guys. They are going to compete, and the best man wins. I love to earn my success in everything I do. I have to earn it in high school, so I have to earn it at the next level. It’s going to make me work even harder.”
Watson said the only negativity he’s heard out of Clemson is the recent defacing of Howard’s Rock. He added he was upset once hearing the news.
“I just found out (Thursday),” Watson said. “It’s a shame that someone had to do that. It’s a longtime tradition. They could have spray-painted the field or something else. They didn’t have to smash the rock. Whoever did that, it’s going to be on their conscience the rest of their life.”
Watson said he’s excited about getting to Clemson once the season is over. He said fan reception at the Palmetto State Showdown was positive.
“They’ve treated me well,” Watson said. “They’ve been tweeting me and saying they are coming out to support me. I love that from the fans, and I’m not even on campus yet.”