Can Watson win another trophy before the week is out?


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Watson admires the ACC Championship trophy last Saturday
Watson admires the ACC Championship trophy last Saturday

Deshaun Watson sat in front of the television Monday evening, just like his fans, and watched ESPN to see if his name would be called as one of the finalists for this weekend’s Heisman Trophy presentation.

Once he saw his name on the big screen, he knew he was in for a busy week.

Watson is joined on the list of Heisman finalists by Lamar Jackson of Louisville, Jabrill Peppers of Michigan, Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma. Heading into Monday evening, he didn’t know if his name would be called or not.

“I had to watch. I kind of figured and assumed and hoped that I was getting invited,” Watson said Tuesday. “I watched the show with my mom and to see my name get called again was exciting.”

That sets up a busy weekend for the junior signal caller. He will travel to Atlanta for Thursday’s College Football Awards show on ESPN before heading to Baltimore to receive the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He’ll then travel to New York for the Heisman ceremony with media events on both Friday and Saturday. He’s one of three finalists for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, which will be presented Thursday night in Atlanta.

“It’s been a rollercoaster, just all the attention that’s been going my way,” Watson said. “I guess as your name gets bigger the more negative things that get thrown your way. Everyone wants to try and find out the negative things about that person. There have been a lot of positive things, but there are always things that people try to bring up.

“But it's going to be a fun weekend, going to Atlanta and then back home and then Friday go to Baltimore for the Johnny Unitas and then New York for the Heisman. It's going to be quite a weekend for me and my family just to be able to travel and see different things and meet new people.”

For the season, Watson has completed 329 of 487 passes for 3914 yards and 37 touchdowns. He ranks fourth in the nation in completions, fifth in touchdown passes, eighth in completion percentage and eighth in total offense. His 37 touchdown passes are a Clemson season record and second in ACC history behind the 40 Jameis Winston had when he won the Heisman in 2013. Watson has added 526 yards rushing, giving him 4440 yards of total offense.

Watson has finished strong, connecting on 138 of 186 passes for 1586 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last five games. That is a 74 percent completion percentage. He has had 20 touchdowns rushing and passing over the five games, including 11 in the last two games, and averaged 356.8 total offense yards per game for the last five contests.

This time around in New York, however, he knows what to expect.

“I was more nervous last year because I didn't know what I was getting myself into,” he said. “I think last year I was more nervous. This year, I am just honored to have my name back in the conversation, and I am looking forward to going back to New York to see all of the Heisman people and the trustees and everyone up there that is a part of the whole weekend. I am going to sit back and put it in God's hands and see what happens.”

Watson’s Tigers sit at 12-1 and seeded second in the College Football Playoff, where they will face third-seeded Ohio St. in the semifinals in Glendale, Ariz., on New Year’s Eve. Watson knows the eyes of the nation will be on that game.

“You're always being watched. Every week, all eyes are on you. Regardless of where or when you're playing, everyone is circling the Clemson game,” he said. “Last year people were doubting us and thinking we were previous teams that had slipped up here and there but this program has been more consistent. This year, programs have brought their A-game each and every week, and we've understood that. Like Coach Swinney says, embrace the target.”

Watson was 23-34 for 288 yards and three touchdowns passing and added a team-best 85 yards rushing on 17 carries and scored twice against Virginia Tech. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the ACC Championship game for the second consecutive year.

But is that enough to catapult him past Jackson, the early front-runner for the award? Watson says he doesn’t know, but he hopes voters took a look at the entire season.

“Look at the overall body of work that I've had over the past year. The strength of schedule, the rankings and having a chance to win a national championship,” Watson said. “The big-time games and the big moments, every road game was a night game. There were big moments each and every week. But I understand it's up to the media and the voters and people like that who will pick who they think deserves it. I am just happy to be one of the guys in the mix.”


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