Count Tim Tebow among those who believe that Deshaun Watson is a good bet to become Clemson University’s first Heisman Trophy winner.
Duly impressed by Watson’s record-setting season of a year ago, Tebow contended this week that Watson may be the odds-on favorite for college football’s most prestigious award.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the country and definitely one of the Heisman favorites, if not the Heisman favorite,” Tebow said while at an event in Greenville.
Tebow, a Heisman winner during his career at Florida, met Clemson’s sophomore quarterback last December at the Heisman Trophy award ceremony in New York, where Watson finished third in the balloting behind winner Derrick Henry of Alabama and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford.
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Tebow later got to know Watson better while visiting Clemson prior to the national championship game.
“I had a chance to spend a decent amount of time with him,” Tebow said. “He is an awesome kid.”
Watson, who became the first player to pass for more than 4,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000 in the same season, accounted for 478 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers’ 45-40 loss to Alabama in the title game.
That performance only solidified his reputation in Tebow’s eyes.
“The way he played against Alabama in the national championship, I was just so proud of the way he played – the heart that he played with, the poise that he played with,” Tebow said. “He never got frustrated, never got discouraged.”
Tebow said that Clemson’s entire team appeared to take on the calm demeanor of Watson – not only throughout the season, but even prior to the playoff and national title game.
“I spoke to Clemson before the national championship game, maybe a week or so before the game, and I was looking at all the players’ and coaches’ eyes,” Tebow said. “They didn’t look like a team that was getting ready to play a perennial power, almost an NFL team. They weren’t intimidated, they weren’t scared. They were ready for that.”
And Tebow said it showed when the Tigers essentially matched Alabama blow for blow.
“They didn’t lose because of intimidation – they lost because of a play here, a play there,” Tebow said. “That Clemson team was really good and they’re getting more depth, better players.
“Dabo Swinney is a players’ coach and gets those players to believe in themselves and he gets a lot out of them. And then you have a guy like Deshaun Watson – guys like him don’t come around a lot.”