CLEMSON – The official announcement from Deshaun Watson on his future is that there is no official announcement.
No. 3 Clemson’s junior quarterback has left the door at least a little open to a possible return for his senior season.
“It’s up in the air,” Watson said Monday. “I just pray about it and we’ll figure that out later on at the (end) of the season.”
Watson is still considered by many NFL draft pundits to be a first-round selection in April 2017.
If Watson ends up going pro, that means Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. contest against rival South Carolina on ESPN will officially be his final game in Death Valley.
“I’m just going to cherish the moment like I do each and every week, regardless if it is or not,” Watson said. “I treat every game like it’s going to be my last because you never know when the last play is going to come and your career is going to be over. I always have that mentality. We’ll see what happens and continue to embrace everything that comes with a home game, having that pride and wearing this jersey.”
CBSSports.com lists him among the top three draft-eligible QBs, along with North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer.
But NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein, though, said he’s not hearing Watson’s name mentioned in the first round among his pro contacts.
Dabo Swinney joked Sunday about keeping a scholarship available in case Watson needs it. That came two weeks after Watson was one of four juniors recognized during Clemson’s Senior Day.
“In terms of (Watson’s future), that’s a conversation he and coach Swinney will have,” said Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. “I’m just focused on South Carolina. I believe he’s just focused on South Carolina. This is a big game for him.”
Watson is coming off what Swinney said was one of his best games from a decision-making standpoint. That is an area that NFL pundits have had questions about this season with Watson, who’s thrown 13 interceptions. That’s the same number he had in 15 games last year.
He didn’t commit any turnovers in a 35-13 win over Wake Forest and completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 202 yards. Watson tossed one touchdown and also ran for 47 yards on seven carries, his highest rushing average in a game this season, and tacked on two more scores on the ground.
On the year, Watson is leading the ACC with 298 passing yards per game, which is higher than his 273 per contest last year. His 28 touchdown passes have him on a higher pace than last season, but Watson, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry last year, is averaging 3.9 per rush in 2016. His 425 yards on the ground is pretty far off pace from last year's 1,105 yards.
Numbers and wins, where's he excelled the most, are not part of the legacy Watson he wants to leave behind.
That list, Watson laid out Monday, includes being know for being “a man of God, doing the right things at all times.”
“Just a student-athlete that works hard to be the best on and off the field,” Watson said. “Have that great mentality to be positive and achieve anything you want.”