Clemson University

Watson’s back in the Heisman Trophy race

Deshaun Watson is looking to add to his Heisman Trophy résumé one final time this season with a strong performance Saturday night against Virginia Tech. His hope is if he plays well, it’ll be enough to secure a trip to New York, for himself and his family.

“It’s something that I would love to do and experience again so my family can go experience it,” he said Monday. “My mom loves New York. It’s one of her favorite places to go.”

Watson finished third in Heisman voting a season ago behind Alabama running back Derrick Henry, who won the award, and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey.

Entering the 2015 ACC Championship game, Watson had passed for 3,223 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and rushed for 756 yards and nine scores.

This season, he’s passed for 3,626 yards with 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, while rushing for 441 yards and four scores.

In Clemson’s past two games, blowout wins over Wake Forest and South Carolina, Watson has nine total touchdowns with only one interception, which came on a tipped pass against the Gamecocks.

“For me, I just feel like I grow each and every week. I get better as the season goes,” he said. “I’ve felt that way since high school. As the season progresses, I tend to get better throughout the year. Right now, I’m just playing my best football, and all the guys around me are playing their best football.”

If voters reward for the entirety of the season, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson will likely win the award. The sophomore has 3,390 passing yards and 1,538 rushing yards with 51 total touchdowns.

But if voters decide what happens down the stretch is more important, Watson has a good a shot to win.

Jackson and the Cardinals have lost two games in a row, while Watson and Clemson have a chance to clinch their second consecutive ACC title and College Football Playoff berth with a victory over Virginia Tech in Orlando.

Tigers co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott expects Watson to make an impressive final Heisman statement this weekend.

“If you look back on his career, he’s been incredible in the big games. He’s been incredible all the time, but really in the big games he’s been incredible,” Scott said. “I don’t know if there’s anybody better in college football the past two or three years on the big stage. That’s what we’ve come to expect from Deshaun. I don’t expect anything less Saturday night.”

Watson said he hopes he does enough to become a serious contender for the most prestigious award in college football.

“I’m just honored and blessed to continue to have my name in the mix,” he said. “I had a great time last year being around all the former Heisman winners and all the people that was a part of that whole weekend. We had a blast, regardless of the result. Of course I want to get back there, but that’s up to the voters.”

Wide-open race

There is no clear cut Heisman Trophy favorite. A look at the candidates still standing:

1. Lamar Jackson

Louisville QB

Coming off two bad games.

2. Deshaun Watson

Clemson QB

6 TD passes vs. USC.

3. Jalen Hurts

Alabama QB

Best player on best team.

4. Baker Mayfield

Oklahoma QB

Bedlam for Big 12 title.

5. Sam Darnold

Southern Cal QB

Flavor of month on hot team.

6. Jake Browning

Washington QB

Plays Colorado on Friday.

7. Dalvin Cook

FSU RB

Big day against Gators.

8. Christian McCaffery

Stanford RB

One of preseason favorites.

9. J.T. Barrett

Ohio State QB

Engineered win vs. Michigan.

10. D’Onta Foreman

Texas RB

Best player on bad team.

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