Deshaun Watson prepares for not-so-secret trip to Auburn


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Watson will make his second trip to Auburn this Saturday
Watson will make his second trip to Auburn this Saturday

CLEMSON – Heisman Trophy candidate and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson opens the season Saturday night at Auburn, but it won’t be Watson’s first visit to the campus.

Watson made a “secret” trip to Auburn in late May of 2013 so he could get a feel for Auburn’s players and coaches. He was already committed to Clemson, however, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney doesn’t approve of committed players taking visits to other schools.

It’s not easy for one of the nation’s best recruits to take a secret visit, however, and the visit hit social media late on Friday night of the visit. Watson later told Clemson’s coaches about the visit, but he said Monday that he felt it was something he had to do and he didn’t feel like anyone had the power at that point to tell him no.

“It wasn't any secret. It was something where I wanted to make sure I was making the right choice,” Watson said as he previewed Auburn in the WestZone. “It was my decision. I don't have to tell the world where I am going or what I am allowed to do. If I want to do something, then I can go ahead and do it. I enjoyed the visit. Auburn is a nice place. Gus and the whole coaching staff was awesome. I had a great weekend, but I felt comfortable being at Clemson.”

Watson said he has no idea what to expect this Saturday, however.

“I don't know. It's kind of different from being on the field and being in the stands,” he said. “I really can't make that decision or tell you how loud it is going to be Saturday night or not.”

On Clemson playing Auburn in 2010

“I can't remember if I watched it or not. Of course I visited Auburn during the recruiting process. I know how that stadium is and I know how their fans are. Of course it is going to be a hostile environment with the first game. It's a big time matchup on primetime. It's no surprise that it is going to be loud and real crazy. But we are going to enjoy it. It's nothing they haven't seen before.”

If he’s happy to get back to football after a busy offseason

“Yeah, of course, because all of that is kind of distractions. A lot of busy stuff that you want to do something else and be with your teammates, but there are some things I can't really say no to. At the end, it was good to be able to travel and experience and meet new people. But it does feel good to actually get to the season, officially game week and get things started.”

Tired of attention and commitments?

“It gets annoying time to time, but it is something that comes with the territory. I just try to enjoy it as much as I can because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who knows if that type of stuff will ever come back again.”

Do you feel any pressure in living up to the expectations?

“No because in reality I don't really care what other people think about me. I have my own expectations. I know what I can do. I know what I can't do. And my teammates know that too. At the end of the day people are going to have their own opinions. People are going to be jealous, people are going to like me, people are not. I just do what I got to do, have fun playing football and just enjoy it with my teammates. There is really no pressure for me or this team. We just do what we do.”

On playing a defense like Auburn

“The only thing we have to do is execute. Even if they know the play, if you execute the play then they can't stop it. We just have to do what we have to do and focus on that and let everything fall into place. It always comes down to the quarterback whether that team runs the same offense or not. The quarterback touches the ball every play, and the quarterback is the one making the decisions and getting the balls to the playmakers. Every play comes down to me making a decision and me making the right one.”

The running back depth

“There is a lot of talent in that backfield and a lot of guys who can make plays. It doesn't matter who is in the game. Every one of those guys is a play away from breaking something big or making a spectacular play. All of those guys are very smart and they know the offense. They know what to do. It will be good for Wayne and the other guys to get rest so they can carry the ball more.”

Kevin Steele

“Of course, he's a great coach and will have the guys disciplined and have the guys ready to play at a high level. Every coach is different so will have to see what he has ready for Saturday.”

Finally getting to play

“It will be good to go out there and turn it loose and show the world what Clemson football is all about. There will be a lot of emotions going on but at the same time, it will be fun to get back out on that field and play college football. It's been a long eight months - long but quick.”

On getting stressed about going pro or earning high draft pick

"There's no point in getting stressed. It's something out of my control. If I have the opportunity to leave, then I will leave. But right now my main focus is on enjoying my college career and being the best player I can be for this football team and this program. It's been just like every other off-season. I am just doing what I have to do to get the job done and committing myself to be a good person off the field. Nothing else has changed. That other stuff, if it comes, it comes and if not then not. I will just go at God's speed and let him control things.

“I am still going to be same Deshaun Watson I was before all of that. If it happens then good, but if a franchise wants me then they will take me. But at the end of the day, I am just trying to win a national championship here and be the best player I can be.

“I feel comfortable. I'm confident. I feel like we have prepared very well. I felt like I prepared very well and the preparation isn't done. I don't want to be ready right now. I don't want to be ready Friday. Whenever 8:05 hits in Auburn, that's when me and my teammates will be ready. We can't play the game right now. We just got to continue to prepare and make sure we channel all the energy and release it whenever kick off starts.”

Preparing mentally in first game against new DC

“Just got to watch whatever Coach Steele and their defense did before in previous years. Of course it is week one so it's going to be a lot of new stuff, but that is the great thing about what Coach Venables does on the practice fields. He gives us a whole bunch of different looks and different packages that we prepare. It's nothing that we won't see on our practice fields. So we just got to adjust and that is the good thing about football. You have to adjust each and every week because there is always something new.”

Difference in your body?
“I feel comfortable. I feel a lot stronger and a lot faster. Nothing different than what I felt in camp. Regardless if I put on 15 pounds or I didn't. I would still hold up. I held up all last year so it wouldn't make a difference.”

Predictions for his first-game performance

“It's kind of hard to say in college because my freshman year I played a little bit so I couldn't really do what I wanted to do. Last year we did pretty good, played a half. So we will figure out this year what happens. In high school, I felt comfortable. I felt good. There is always going to be some things we got to fix because it is the first game of the year and we are playing a different opponent. But we will just have to see Saturday night and hopefully everything goes smooth.”

Offensive line

“My offensive line is going to be very good. They are very confident. All guys have experience. Last year we had a lot of different holes. Mitch Hyatt never played a game. Jake Fruhmorgen never played. Taylor Hearn never played. I think Tyrone was a first year starter. Jay (Guillermo) just came back - first year starter. I think the only guy that really played was Joe Gore and Eric Mac Lain. And so all these guys have experience and prepared and played against the best and practiced against the best. So all those guys are going to be prepared and confident. We will just go out there and execute at a high level.

Auburn quarterback Sean White

“I know him a little bit. We talked here and there. He is an Elite 11 brother. We went to camps before, but not on a personal level I don't really know him.”

On Sean White winning Elite 11 over Watson

“He never said anything about it. It was a competition thing. He had a great weekend that weekend. At the end of the day, we are all still Elite 11 quarterbacks.”


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