Enjoy watching Deshaun Watson play at Clemson over the next five to six games because whenever the second-ranked Tigers conclude their season, their star quarterback will be turning professional.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Watson, along with running back Wayne Gallman and wide receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott have indicated to him they plan on pursing their football careers’ on Sunday’s next year.
The news is not a shock, but it proves Clemson, who will host Pittsburgh this Saturday in Death Valley, has already begun its contingency plan of life without their four main offensive weapons. Swinney says the four will run down the Hill and be honored with the rest of the seniors when Clemson celebrates Senior Day on Saturday.
“We definitely want to honor them while we have the opportunity. They definitely deserve that,” Swinney said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
This isn’t the first time Swinney honored underclassmen he knew where going to be gone the following year. After Kyle Parker was selected as a first-round draft choice by the Colorado Rockies in the 2010 MLB Draft that June, he became the first underclassman to come down the Hill and honored with the senior class.
Last year, Zac Brooks, Travis Blanks and Martin Aiken all came down the Hill with the seniors after they had already informed Swinney of their intentions at the time. Swinney says Watson, Gallman, Scott and Williams indicated to him back in the summer they were graduating in December and that this was going to be their last season at Clemson.
“They are more seniors than some of the seniors,” Swinney said. “To me, it is about graduation. Whatever their eligibility is … Lord you can get all confused on that. When you graduate, and then what are you intentions, those are the main things.
“Like Charone Peake for example. He knew he was graduating in December, but he knew he was going to come back for another year. So we just try to honor the guys whose intentions are … they are not coming back, and they are either going to graduate in December or they are on track to graduate in May. That’s how we handle senior day.”
Watson has five credit hours to complete to be eligible for graduation in December, which is fewer hours, according to Swinney, than some of the fifth-year seniors on the team.
“He is definitely earned that right in every regard,” the Clemson coach said. “It is about graduation. We will have several of those guys … Mike Williams, Gallman. Mike is graduating in December. Gallman is graduating in December. Scott is graduating in December. Deshaun is graduating in December, and all of those guys plan on moving on.”
Of course seniors like record-breaking tight end Jordan Leggett, All-ACC center Jay Guillermo, All-ACC linebacker Ben Boulware, All-ACC tackle Carlos Watkins and All-ACC cornerback Cordrea Tankersley will also be honored.
“It’s just a really good group of young men that are looking for a strong finish. It is great to have that moment to really celebrate them,” Swinney said.