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Andy Wittry | | January 24, 2022

Deshaun Watson: College football career, stats, highlights, records

College Football: Memorable QB Bowl Performances | High Five

Deshaun Watson helped Clemson become arguably the most dominant college football program today. He led the Tigers to back-to-back College Football Playoff berths and national championship game appearances, capped off by a national title in the 2016 season.

Here's everything you need to know about Deshaun Watson's college career.

The vitals on Deshaun Watson

School: Clemson
Position: Quarterback
Height: 6-3
Weight: 215 pounds
Years active: 2014-16

Here are Deshaun Watson's career stats in college. Scroll to the right to view the complete stats.

Year games completions attempts comp. % yards y/A TD int Rating
2014 8 93 137 67.9 1,466 10.7 14 2 188.6
2015 15 333 491 67.8 4,109 8.4 35 13 156.3
2016 15 388 579 67.0 4,593 7.9 41 17 151.1
Career 38 814 1,207 67.4 10,168 8.4 90 32 157.5

Where did Deshaun Watson go to college?

Deshaun Watson chose Clemson over scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami (FL) and Ohio State, among others.

How many national championships did Deshaun Watson win in college?

Deshaun Watson won one national championship in college, when the Tigers claimed the 2016 national championship (played in January 2017) in a rematch against Alabama. Clemson lost to Alabama in the national championship game at the end of the 2015 season.

What kind of prospect was Deshaun Watson in high school?

Deshaun Watson was ranked the No. 42 prospect in the 2014 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, which ranked him as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 4 player in Georgia.

What was Deshaun Watson's record in college?

In 38 college games, Deshaun Watson's Tigers went 33-5, including back-to-back 14-1 seasons in 2015 and 2016. Clemson started the 2015 season 14-0, reaching the College Football Playoff national championship game undefeated, but it was the next season, when the Tigers went 11-1 in the regular season, when they won the national championship.

Records set by Deshaun Watson

Watson's name appears five times in the FBS record book. Here are some of the records and statistical accomplishments achieved by the former Clemson quarterback:

  • Responsible for one of 35 seasons in FBS history with at least 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards: 4,104 passing yards, 1,105 rushing yards (2015)
  • 1st in Clemson history in total offense in a game: 588 yards vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 12, 2016
  • 1st in Clemson history in passing yards in a game: 580 yards vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 12, 2016
  • 1st in Clemson history in passing yards in a season: 4,593 yards (2016)
  • 1st in Clemson history in passing yards per game in a season: 306.2 yards/game (2016)
  • 1st in Clemson history in passing yards per game in a career: 267.2 yards/game
  • 1st in Clemson history in passing touchdowns in a game: Six vs. North Carolina, Sept. 27, 2016; vs. South Carolina, Nov. 26, 2016
  • 1st in Clemson history in passing touchdowns in a season: 41 (2016)
  • 1st in Clemson history in passing touchdowns per game in a season: 2.73 touchdowns/game (2016)
  • 1st in Clemson history in passing touchdowns per game in a career: 2.37 touchdowns/game
  • 1st in Clemson history in rushing yards by a quarterback in a season: 1,105 yards (2015)
  • 1st in Clemson history in completions in a season: 388 completions (2016)
  • 1st in Clemson history in completions per game in a career: 21.4 completions/game
  • 1st in Clemson history in consecutive completions in a season: 19 completions (2016)
  • T-1st in Clemson history in wins as a starting quarterback: 32 wins
  • T-9th in FBS history in single-game completions: 52 completions vs. Pittsburgh, Nov. 12, 2016
  • 12th in FBS history in total yards in a season: 5,222 yards (2016)
  • 15th in FBS history in total yards in a season: 5,209 yards (2015)
  • 18th in FBS history in career yards per game: 318.3 yards/game

CHAMPS: Complete national championship history for the FBS

What were some of Deshaun Watson's best games in college?

In Deshaun Watson's second career game, he completed 8-of-9 pass attempts for 154 yards and three touchdowns with a 342.6 (!) rating, hinting at his potential as a quarterback. By his fourth college game, he completed 75 percent of his passes for 435 yards, a school-record six touchdowns and an interception. In his next game, against N.C. State, he ran for a season-high 62 yards and new best two touchdowns.

Watson's production and consistency reached a new level as a sophomore, when he threw for at least 200 yards 10 times in 15 games, including five games with at least 300 yards and two performances over 400 passing yards. Watson threw for a season-best 420 yards against Boston College, along with three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. He threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the 2015 ACC Championship, then in the College Football Playoff, Watson had 187 passing yards, 145 rushing yards and two total touchdowns against Oklahoma, then 405 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and 73 rushing yards against Alabama in the national championship game. Watson rushed for at least 100 yards in five of Clemson's last seven games.

As a junior, Watson threw for three or more touchdowns in a game on eight occasions, including a school-record-tying six against South Carolina and five against Louisville. He set a career-best with 580 passing yards in a loss to Pittsburgh on 52-of-70 passing. In the 2016 ACC Championship, Watson completed 23-of-34 attempts for 288 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, plus 85 rushing yards and two scores. In the national semifinal against Ohio State, Watson threw for 259 yards and a touchdown, plus 57 yards and two rushing touchdowns. In the national championship game, Watson was 36-of-56 passing for 420 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown in the Tigers' national championship win.

What awards did Deshaun Watson win in college?

  • 2017 ACC Athlete of the Year
  • 2017 Best Male College Athlete ESPY Award winner
  • 2016 Heisman Trophy runner-up
  • 2016 Davey O'Brien Award winner
  • 2016 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner
  • 2016 Manning Award winner
  • 2016 ACC Athlete of the Year
  • 2016 Second Team All-ACC
  • 2016 Clemson Strength All-American
  • 2015 Heisman Trophy finalist
  • 2015 Davey O'Brien Award winner
  • 2015 Manning Award winner
  • 2015 consensus All-American
  • 2015 ACC Offensive Player of the Year
  • 2015 ACC Player of the Year

What did people say about Deshaun Watson?

  • The Greenville News (Sept. 2014): "Deshaun Watson joined an exclusive club Saturday. Watson became the fifth first-year freshman to start at quarterback for Clemson University. Steve Fuller (1975), Willie Jordan (1975), Patrick Sapp (1992) and Nealon Green (1994) also earned that distinction. However, Watson earned something his four predecessors did not in their first starts. A victory. Watson completed 21 of his first 28 passes for 378 yards with five touchdowns. Tajh Boyd and Charlie Whitehurst are the only Clemson quarterbacks who have thrown for more yards in a game. He later threw his sixth touchdown pass of the game, setting a school record."
  • Deshaun Watson (Oct. 2014): "It's kind of crazy. In high school I had a lot of that, but those were people I grew up with. Now I have thousands of people that want my autograph and pictures. It's kind of hectic at times. But, hey, I'm having fun."
  • The Times and Democrat (Oct. 2014): "Cole Stoudt will lead Clemson's offense. The senior quarterback was the opening game starter but lost his job to freshman Deshaun Watson. Watson suffered a broken hand last week against Louisville, thus reinstalling Stoudt to a wayward running game and patchwork offensive line."
  • Former Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott (Sept. 2015): "We've got a lot of great linemen and a lot of receivers and running backs who can make plays. So the most important thing for him is to keep his hands on the steering wheel and run the tempo."
  • Deshaun Watson (Sept. 2015): "I've been around since probably my (high school) freshman year. From what I've been seeing, we've never kind of had that respect or gotten over that hump. I really don't care about the polls. We're going to do what we've got to do."
  • The Times and Democrat (Sept. 2015): "Watson, hampered by injuries last year, has played in only six full games at Clemson, three in 2014 and three this season. He is 6-0 in those games, and winning matters most. But two of the programs he beat in 2014 – North Carolina and South Carolina – were so bad on defense, they hired new defensive coordinators. This year, Watson beat Wofford, an FCS team, Appalachian State, a semi-FCS team, and didn't look very good against a Louisville team coming off a loss to Houston. Watson was 21 of 30 passing for 199 yards in the 20-17 victory over the Cardinals with two touchdown passes and two interceptions, plus 54 yards rushing on 12 carries. That's fine for most players, just not Heisman-worthy."
  • Scott Keepfer of The Greenville News (Oct. 2015): "Clemson University quarterback Deshaun Watson may be a sophomore, but he remains a largely unproven commodity in the eyes of many college football critics. That's why tonight's game against Notre Dame at Memorial Stadium could prove to be his, well, proving ground. Despite an injury-plagued freshman season, Watson was anointed the Atlantic Coast Conference's Preseason Player of the Year in July, placing additional pressure on the shoulders of a young quarterback who just three weeks ago celebrated his 20th birthday."
  • Aaron Brenner of The Post and Courier (Oct. 2015): "'Game manager' has been the standard backhanded compliment to risk-averse quarterbacks. Most wouldn't attach that label to Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. His coaches do. So does another surprise source: Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson ... A dynamic playmaker in limited action as a freshman, a dark horse in the summertime Heisman Trophy discussion and voted the 2015 ACC  Preseason Player of the Year, Watson has been an interesting evaluation halfway through his sophomore season for No. 6 Clemson."
  • Deshaun Watson (Oct. 2015): "My job is to manage the game. I do that every game. If I don't manage the game, we're going to lose."
  • Former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher (Nov. 2015): "You see a totally different demeanor in him because of knowledge, presence, poise at the line of scrimmage."
  • Former Clemson center Jay Guillermo (Nov. 2015): "I worry about him and not letting things get into his head because there's a lot of pressure on him and the national spotlight is on him. He handles it very, very well. He handles it well because he prepares so well."
  • The Times and Democrat (Nov. 2015): "The Heisman train is starting to pick up steam for the Clemson signal-caller. With ABC giving  this game first-class treatment, the Seminoles of Florida State coming into town and Clemson holding a No. 1 ranking, there is a good chance the Watson train could be headed for New York City with a win this weekend. Watson had his coming-out game last year at Florida State, playing 64 snaps off the bench, completing 19-28 passes for 266 yards along with 30 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground. This season he has done nothing to lower his expectation for this week's game as the league's leader in pass efficiency (168.3)."
  • Pete Iacobelli of the Associated Press (Dec. 2015): "Deshaun Watson rarely panics, not as a high school star in Georgia watching his mother fight cancer or as Clemson's quarterback working to come back from knee surgery. Calm and confident without being flashy, Watson's style led the Tigers to their first undefeated season since 1981 – and a chance to accomplish much more."
  • Star Tribune (Jan. 2016): "A brilliant performance by superb sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson wasn't quite enough to give Clemson the national championship ... Watson did all he could for the Tigers, though. He completed 30 of 47 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns and ran for an additional 73 in a game that wasn't decided until a frantic final quarter."
  • Zach Lentz of The Times and Democrat (Oct. 2016): "Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson has been a part of many big games over the course of his 27-game career as the Tigers' starting quarterback. From a record-setting performance in last year's ACC Championship Game to a victory in the College Football Playoff Semifinal game at the Orange Bowl – that ultimately sent the Tigers to the national title game – Watson's career has seen more ups than downs (with a 25-2 record as a starting quarterback; 25-1 in games that he finishes). But one game is going to stay with Watson forever, and that one happened on homecoming against N.C. State Saturday ... For the game, Watson finished with a career high in completions with 39 and a season-high 378 yards passing and two touchdowns – while adding an additional 35 yards on the ground and a touchdown."
  • The Times and Democrat (Dec. 2016): "Another year and another close call for Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, as the record-setting Tiger signal-caller finished second in the voting to the eventual winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. A year ago, Watson became the school's first player to ever be invited to the prestigious ceremony, finishing third in the voting behind Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and eventual winner Alabama running back Derrick Henry."
  • Mark Long of the Associated Press (Jan. 2017): "Standing on college football's biggest stage and hoisting its top prize, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and dynamic quarterback Deshaun Watson shared the ultimate hug and a few private words. A formidable pairing. An improbably championship. An ideal ending. Swinney and Watson's finale together, a 35-31 upset victory against Alabama in the national title game Monday night, might just be a launching point for the Tigers (14-1)."

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