Who is the ACC’s best quarterback of the last decade?
It’s a three-man argument. You have two guys that have won a national championship, two guys that won a Heisman Trophy and two guys who won every quarterback award you can think of.
Of course, I’m talking about Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.
Without a doubt, Jackson has the most athletic skill and is one of those quarterbacks that just amazes you with what he can do with the ball in his hands as a passer and as a runner. And though Jackson set many ACC records and won the Heisman Trophy, he could never get his teams over the hump and win that big game that would lead him to a championship. It also did not help that he did not have the supporting cast Watson and Winston had.
Winston has an amazing talent and broke single-season Florida State and ACC records for yards, completions, attempts and touchdowns in his two years as the starting quarterback. Like Jackson, Winston also won the Heisman, but he also led the Seminoles to two ACC Championships. Lost one game as the starting quarterback and won a national championship.
Winston even took FSU to the 2014 College Football Playoff after posting a 13-0 record before losing to Oregon in the Rose Bowl. It was the only loss of his career as a starting quarterback.
Watson did not win a Heisman Trophy, but he also won a national championship, was a three-year starter and had a 32-3 record as one. He also set many Clemson and ACC records for a single-season. His Clemson teams won two ACC Championships and also played for two national championships. Also, like Winston, Watson won every quarterback award one can imagine.
Watson and Winston never went head-to-head. Winston was suspended for the 2014 game in which Watson nearly led the Tigers to a win in Tallahassee against top-ranked FSU. That is the last time the Seminoles beat Clemson on the football field, and they needed overtime to do it.
Watson and Jackson did go head-to-head in a battle many believe is the best game ever in the ACC. Watson threw for nearly 400 yards and five touchdowns, while Jackson had over 500 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. In the end, Watson threw a last-minute touchdown pass to tight end Lamar Jackson and Clemson escaped Death Valley with a 42-36 victory.
The ACC Network’s Wes Durham picked Winston as his all-decade quarterback and his pick is not wrong. His final reasoning, Winston won a national championship and a Heisman Trophy. Those are fair points, but I like why his ACC colleague Mark Packer took Watson.
Watson was not only a winner on the field, but he was a winner off the field too. And that is where he beats out Winston in the end. Winton was always in trouble at Florida State for reasons I will not total go into.
Watson on the other hand is the kind of young man you want your daughter to marry. He is very well spoken, has good manners and is always respectful to others. Also, Watson’s off the field contributions to the community can’t go unnoticed, nor can the fact he graduated in just three and a half years.
Watson is the best quarterback of the decade in the ACC and you can also argue is the best quarterback of the decade nationally as well. Sorry Joe Burrow and Cam Newton, you did it for just one year.
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