When Deshaun Watson tore the ACL in his right knee last year, one of the first people he heard from was his old head coach at Clemson. Dabo Swnney knew it was a tough day for his former quarterback, but he wanted to let Watson know there was a silver lining in it all.
“For me, it was not hard to articulate the greatness of this young person,” Swinney said on ESPN’s First Take Monday. “He is an unbelievable player. That was the best part of last season.”
Before being injured on a non-contact drill in practice, Watson already took the NFL by storm. In the seven games he quarterbacked the Houston Texans in 2017, the two-time Heisman Trophy Finalist threw for 1,699 yards, while completing nearly 62 percent of his passes. He also threw 19 touchdown passes, which led all quarterbacks in the NFL through the first seven weeks of the season.
He was coming off a 469-yard total offense performance at Seattle in which he threw for 402 yards and ran for 67. He threw four touchdowns in the game, which the Seahawks won, 41-38, in the end. Earlier in the season, Watson threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns against Tom Brady’s Patriots. He also rushed for 41 yards.
“I actually talked to him the day he got hurt,” Swinney said. “He was a little disappointed, but this is what I told him. ‘This did not happen in training camp. It did not happen in the summer. You had an opportunity to show the world and your teammates and your opponents who you are.’ I think he really kind of captured the league last year with what he was doing because it was unbelievable.
“It was about how he does it with his humility, his demeanor, how he leads and makes everyone else better. He makes the community better and I think the Texans are in for an exciting time.”
If anyone should know, it is Swinney. He reminded the hosts at ESPN how Watson bounced back after tearing his left ACL late in his freshman season at Clemson.
“He had the surgery in December. He was ready to go by August,” Swinney said. “Then he played in two national championships, (played) 30 straight games and graduated in two and a half years.”
In his final two season at Clemson, Watson went 28-2 as a starter while leading the Tigers to the 2015 national championship game and then winning it all in 2016. The two-time Davey O’Brien Award winner as the nation’s best quarterback also set just about every single-season and career passing record at Clemson along the way.
“This is a very focused and very driven person,” Swinney said. “That is what people (in the NFL) missed on. He is brilliant. He is a junkie. He cannot get enough of the preparation. His coaches know that and his teammates know that.”
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