CLEMSON — For the greatest quarterback, arguably, in the history of Clemson football, one might think that when it comes time to answer questions regarding readiness for the NFL, he could just point at his impressive resume.
But this is the NFL and they want more than a resume.
Former Tiger signal-caller Deshaun Watson does feel his resume speaks for itself.
“I’m a confident player and I feel that my background speaks for itself,” Watson said. “I’m putting in the work now. I felt like I was the best player in the country last year, and I still have a lot to improve on. There’s still another level. I still have a lot that I can fix in my game and continue to grow. It’s really out of my control. I just do what I do and, hopefully, a team will fall in love with me.”
It is hard to argue with a quarterback who was the first two-time Heisman finalist in the history of the ACC – and finished with a 32-3 record as a starting quarterback and a Clemson-best .914 winning percentage.
That resume and what Watson brings to any team picking him, at least according to one very biased party, head coach Dabo Swinney, are comparable to another ACC great — Michael Jordan.
“I don’t know how to articulate the greatness that’s inside of him,” Swinney said. “To me, that’s what Michael Jordan represents, because that’s what I grew up with. I’m sure when Michael Jordan was coming out of North Carolina, his 3-pointer wasn’t very good and he had some flaws when you started poking holes on him. But it was who he was, it’s that will, that drive — you can’t coach that.
“It’s what’s inside of him, it’s what’s in between his ears, it’s the type of young man he is,” Swinney said. “He’s chemistry, Day One. He’s leadership, Day One. He changes the locker room, Day One. He impacts free agency, Day One. He makes everybody better, Day One.”
Watson confident in rep as winner
For a quarterback who led his team to back-to-back national championship game appearances, it was the lessons that were learned during the 2015 season, which saw the Tigers fall to Alabama in the national championship game, and during the 2016 season, which saw the Tigers rally to defeat Alabama with 1 second remaining in the game to secure their first national title in 35 years, that taught him what he truly is — a winner.
“I’ve learned how to handle adversity. How to win a national championship. I’m a winner — that’s what I do,” Watson said.
However, it is not just his on-the-field play that makes Watson so desirable to future employers — it is his character off the field.
And that is the stuff that is hard to measure.
“That’s what I want to make sure I articulate. (Watson is) always the same with his character and integrity, and he’s at his best in the biggest moment,” Swinney said. “(The combines) are irrelevant, kind of like that SATs and ACTs. I’ve been around some people with unbelievable SATs who did terrible in school, and others who were terrible — who did great.”
With Watson being tossed around anywhere from the Cleveland Browns, who have the first pick in the draft, to mid-first round, Swinney is fully behind his guy.
And from what he is hearing, people should not be buying into the predraft rankings because Watson will not be around very long.
“He’s got plenty of consideration. He won’t be sitting there long,” Swinney said. “Don’t buy all the stuff you hear. Wherever he goes, he will be great. They’ll all figure it out.”