TigerNet Top-5: Deshaun Watson led Clemson into new tier in college football


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Watson was a two-time Manning and O'Brien award winner and Heisman finalist.
Watson was a two-time Manning and O'Brien award winner and Heisman finalist.

Deshaun Watson's stamp on Clemson history was forever imprinted with the game-winning drive and last-second TD pass against Alabama in the 2016 season’s title game.

Breaking down the top Tiger QBs of the ACC era, the first two on the list were a throwback to another successful era of Clemson football in the late ‘70s and ‘80s with Homer Jordan and Steve Fuller, while the first decade of Dabo occupies the top-three spots with Trevor Lawrence, Tajh Boyd and Watson.

Who just missed the cut? A Tommy Bowden-era gunslinger and another dual-threat were the closest to the top-5:

Charlie Whitehurst (2002-05): Second-team All-ACC (2005), third-round NFL draft pick (Chargers), top-5 school history in TD responsibility (59), passing yards (9,665), passing TDs (49), passing yards per game (273.9 in 2003) and completion percentage in a single-season (67.4 in 2005).

Woody Dantzler (1998-2001): First-team All-ACC (2001), top-5 school history in total yards per game (303.3 per game in 2001), career passing yards (5,639), TD responsibility (68) and career offensive yards (8,798).

More on Watson:

TigerNet Top-5: QB

Played: 2014-16

Notable career stats: 10,168 passing yards, 67.4 completion rate, 90 passing TDs to 32 INTs, 157.5 rating.

Why he’s here: Three Clemson starting QBs have “national champion” on their college resumes and Watson was oh-so-close to having a pair of them after brilliant performances in the 2015 and 2016-season CFP championship games.

Watson ranks third in ACC history in total offense (12,094) and holds school-bests in career completion percentage (67.4) and total offense per game (318.3 yards), as well as single-game top marks in total offense (588 yards v. Pitt in 2016), passing yards (580 v. Pitt in 2016) and passing touchdowns (6, vs. UNC in 2014 and South Carolina in 2016).

He won the Manning and O’Brien awards as the nation’s top QB twice and also won the Columbus Touchdown Club’s Chic Harley (national player of the year) and Archie Griffin awards (national MVP), in addition to being a finalist for the Heisman and Walter Camp trophies.

Watson was named ACC Player of the Year in 2015 when he tossed for 4,109 yards and rushed for 1,105 more yards to total 47 scores (with 13 interceptions), earning a trip to Heisman ceremonies to edge Steve Fuller and CJ Spiller for the highest-finish there in school history (3rd; 6th the previous high).

As a junior, he made a second-straight trip to NYC as a Heisman finalist and bettered his finish (2nd) with 4,593 passing yards, 41 TDs to 17 interceptions, 629 rushing yards and nine more scores there.

Watson was selected with the 12th overall pick by the Houston Texans in the 2017 NFL draft, where he still plays.

TigerNet Top-5: QB

Our formula here weighs a number of factors, including national awards, All-America and conference honors as well as school single-game, single-season and career records. An impact rating on that team success and the intangibles involved are also judged in that mix. And wrapping up the college aspect, we take how NFL scouts judged them with their draft position.

5. Homer Jordan

4. Steve Fuller

3. Trevor Lawrence

2. Tajh Boyd

1. Deshaun Watson

TigerNet Top-5: Defensive end

(Stats compiled and written by Brandon Rink)

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