No Heisman? Watson wants to hold up the "team trophy" after last game


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<span style=Photo by Phelan Ebenhack / ACC">
Photo by Phelan Ebenhack / ACC

CLEMSON – Head coach Dabo Swinney didn’t have to console quarterback Deshaun Watson after Lamar Jackson of Louisville eclipsed Watson for the Heisman Trophy. Why? Because Watson has his eyes on a bigger and better trophy.

Swinney, talking to the media Tuesday in the WestZone, said he knows he doesn’t have to say anything to Watson about awards or disappointment, saying that the awards are “subjective” more than realistic.

“No. It is what it is. I think he's the best player hands down, but that doesn't take anything away from those other guys,” Swinney said. “They were all deserving to be there. Deshaun is an unbelievable player. He just wants to win. That's the thing about what we're in right now. All that stuff, everybody gets to vote. A lot of people vote before the season is over.

“That's so subjective but the trophy that they give you after the last game, there ain't no vote on that one. Nobody has a say on that one except the guys on the field. Mike Williams wasn't even a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. You've got to be kidding me. It's all opinionated. He'll be the first one drafted, I know that. The trophy Deshaun wants more is the national title, that team trophy you hold up when the last second ticks off from the last game.”

Swinney went on to say that Watson has been a program changer since he arrived on campus, and that players like Zerrick Cooper, Kelly Bryant and Tucker Israel are fortunate in that they get to see Watson operate on a daily basis.

“It's great that Deshaun is here to work with them. He takes a lot of pride in mentoring these guys. He'll go out of his way to help them,” Swinney said. “It's the example that he sets every day. They come to work every day and they're sitting in those meetings with Deshaun. He prepares like a coach. He takes notes like a coach. It's unbelievable the example that he sets. It's how he handles himself off the field. He's early, he stays late. You don't have to ever say a word to him. That's the biggest impact he will have. Because they're paying attention, trust me. They pay attention to those veteran players. That's why we're so hard on those veteran players. It's important they understand the impact they have on those underclassmen.”

Cooper will push Bryant for the starting job in the spring, and Swinney said he’s happy Cooper has spent this season watching the Tigers’ Heisman finalist.

"It's big for a guy like Zerrick to watch how Deshaun handles the media, how he handles success, failure, how he handles coaching,” he said. “Zerrick is doing well on and off the field, including academically. That's in part because of the standard in that room. Deshaun will challenge those guys.”

The Clemson coaches recognized Watson’s potential early on, and have recruited the position knowing he would only stay at Clemson for three years.

“We've known since Deshaun got here he would be here for three years. We knew how special he was. It was easy to recognize that quickly,” Swinney said. “He was just on another level. That's been a part of our recruiting plan. That's why we've got to sign two quarterbacks this year. We try to operate on a number of five quarterback players. We'll sit here at three scholarship quarterbacks as soon as the bowl game is over. We'll have another signee come in over the summer and a midyear come in around January, so that'll get us to five on scholarship. We're always planning for what's next.”

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