App St. linebacker thanks Watson for support during tragedy


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Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
So. Quarterback
#4 6-2, 207
Gainesville, GA

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will look across the line of scrimmage Saturday and see a familiar face, and while both players will think about football for 60 minutes, the postgame hug will be about more than sportsmanship.

Watson is good friends with a former Gainesville (GA) teammate and Appalachian St. linebacker Devan Stringer, and Watson told the media Monday that the two have been looking forward to this game since they learned it would be played.

On Monday, however, Stringer’s 11-day-old daughter, Noelle Marie Stringer, died suddenly, and Watson took a few minutes to send out well-wishes to his friend.

“We’ve known each other since we were little babies,” Watson said of Stringer. “We played Pee Wee, middle school and high school football and basketball together. His baby passed away this morning, and I want to send out prayers his way. He is going to be strong. He’s a great player and it’s going to be fun to see him Saturday. Me and his family are very close, and he is like my brother.”

Stringer bravely met with the media Tuesday evening to send out his thanks to his former teammate.

"He actually called me last night, and I told him that I appreciate that shout out he gave during his interview,” Stringer said. That was very nice of him. He just told me to stay strong for my family, and ball out on Saturday. We’re really like brothers, man. When his mom was going through that situation, we would have a blast, so we’re just like brothers. It’s all fun."

Stringer said he had drawn a lot of strength from the support of friends and family during this difficult time.

“I really appreciate, first, all the support from my teammates up here, and the whole coaching staff and faculty, teachers that have been reaching out to me,” he said. “Secondly, all the support from my community back home in Gainesville, Ga. has been a big help to me and my family at this time. I thank God for giving me the ability to play football because this is helping me through it.”

Stringer said that he and Watson have been looking forward to this game for a while, and he can’t wait to see Watson on the field.

"Probably since about last year, when I found out it was on the schedule,” he said. “We’ve been talking about it ever since; it’s going to be real fun to see him again. I haven’t hit him since we were about 11 years old, so it’s going to be fun. I gave him a little trash talk; I just told him if he comes off that edge thinking I’m not going to be there, he’s very wrong. For the most part, it’s all fun, man. We grew up together since we were about four years old.”

Stringer was asked if he has a scouting report or any insight into Watson’s game.

"Not much; it comes down to having those skill players that can make plays,” Stringer said. “When you’ve got guys like that, there’s not many tendencies you have to show. He’s a big guy, got a big body, runs well. He’s definitely not an easy guy to bring down."


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