College Sports

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson: ‘I’m not going to lose to South Carolina’

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) shakes off the tackle of South Carolina safety T.J. Gurley (20) during November’s game.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) shakes off the tackle of South Carolina safety T.J. Gurley (20) during November’s game. tdominick@thestate.com

Clemson sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is recovering from ACL surgery, spoke to USA Today's Dan Wolken in a story published this week about his recovery and the decision to play against South Carolina with the injury.

Watson as a true freshman played against USC Nov. 29 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left leg and helped the Tigers win 35-17 to snap the Gamecocks’ five-game winning streak.

Watson revealed to USA Today a prediction on how the rivalry would go as long as he is at Clemson: “My high school coach was a big Clemson fan and I told him, as long as I’m the starting quarterback here, I’m not going to lose to South Carolina. It’s a big rivalry. Who wouldn’t want to play in that game?”

Two weeks after injuring the knee against Georgia Tech, Watson passed for two touchdowns and ran for two while wearing a brace against South Carolina. He underwent surgery a few weeks later to repair the knee and ended his season ahead of Clemson’s game vs. Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

According to the USA Today story, Watson’s ACL was already partially torn before his college career began, probably related to a high school injury from his senior season at Gainesville High in Gainesville, Ga.

In five starts and pieces of three other games, Watson completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,466 yards. Two of his 137 passes were intercepted. Watson passed for 14 touchdowns and rushed for a team-high five.

USC defensive end Jadeveon Clowney made a similar prediction in 2012 after beating Clemson 27-17 at Memorial Stadium, win No. 4 in USC’s five-game streak.

“I don’t know how it feels to lose to Clemson,” Clowney said. “I’m not going to know how it feels either because we aren’t losing to them as long as I’m here.”

Watson’s remarks have spurred some back and forth on social media this week between USC and Clemson players.

The next Gamecocks-Tigers matchup, Nov. 28 at Williams-Brice Stadium, is 200 days away.

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