Heisman Diary: TigerNet and Watson arrive in New York


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New York, NY – Clemson is back in the Big Apple.

We were here a month ago when the Tigers played at Syracuse (we came in early to spend a day in the city) and I wrote about how Clemson was recognized everywhere we went. It’s no different this time around.

Nikki and I left Atlanta early Friday morning and caught the first Delta flight to New York. We landed at LaGuardia and immediately followed two Clemson fans through the airport to baggage claim. Once we got through baggage claim, there was a man sitting down that had on a Clemson baseball hat and Clemson sweatpants. We had been in the city a grand total of ten minutes and had already seen four people wearing Clemson gear.

We caught a cab into the city – and things got interesting. Our cabbie was Mohammed from Bangladesh. Very friendly and talkative, Mohammed was not a fan of the traffic that he says has gridlocked Manhattan over the last few days. He said it was worse than normal, and he had his steering wheel in a death grip as he wheeled in and out of traffic. But our cabbie didn’t honk his horn. Nope. Not our guy. He said, “Beep! Beep! Beep!” Hey, whatever works I guess.

We checked into the hotel (thank goodness for an early check-in), took a quick nap and walked the few blocks to the Marriott Marquis, the hotel where all of the Heisman festivities are being held. However – once we got into Times Square we walked straight into two more Clemson fans – Ben and Michelle Jones out of Charlotte.

The Jones were traipsing around Times Square and hoping they could get a glimpse of Deshaun Watson. Here’s hoping they got it.

Once we arrived at the Marquis, we made our way upstairs to set up and there, unguarded for the most part, was the Heisman Trophy. A few people came by and snapped pics – of course I took my pic with the trophy – but it mostly sat in a dark part of the room as we waited on the finalists to arrive.

There were three tables set up, and each finalist was supposed to spend ten minutes at each table. The Clemson media set up at the table closest to the door, and when Watson came into the room he immediately came to our table.

The media darling, however, was Alabama’s Derrick Henry. He is the favorite and the national media followed him from table to table.

What they missed was a very mature Watson being as open as he has been all season. He talked about coming back for two more years. He talked about his idols. He talked about taking 18 credit hours this semester. Yes, 18 credit hours while playing football. He is on pace to graduate next December, but said he feels like he has two more chances after this season to win a national title and a Heisman.

Hovering around the proceedings were Watson’s mother, Deann, and Aunt Sonia. The two were taking pictures, and we had a great conversation with them that we will run in the morning.

Through it all, Watson just looked like he was having fun. He said he’s already working on Oklahoma and can’t wait to get back to his teammates to begin bowl prep. In the meantime, he’s soaking in the sights and sounds of the city and enjoying the process.

Which is pretty much the same way he goes about life.

More to come from what should be a busy Saturday. Will it end with Watson winning the Heisman? Hard to tell, but his Aunt Sonia looked at me before she left and said she didn’t care because he’s always going to be a winner in her book.

All of Clemson feels the same way, Aunt Sonia.

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