At this time last year, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson’s season was over. He showed incredible toughness by playing through a torn ACL in the Tigers' 35-17 victory over South Carolina. But surgery was required and Watson missed the Russell Athletic Bowl matchup with Oklahoma.
A year later, Watson is the leader of the nation’s No. 1 team and he is on his way to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. While he may not be the odds-on favorite to take home the prize, here are three reasons why he should win the award.
1. Quarterbacks Have a Greater Impact On Games Than Running Backs...
And Watson is the best quarterback in the country. Alabama's Derrick Henry has 2,083 total yards from scrimmage on 349 touches. Christian McCaffrey of Stanford has 2.387 yards from scrimmage on 360 chances and has another 1,109 yards in the return game for a total of 3,496 yards. Henry has 23 touchdowns while McCaffrey has 13. Watson received every meaningful snap for Clemson this season and is responsible for 4,404 yards and 41 touchdowns. The threat of Watson also made life easier for running back Wayne Gallman, who topped the 1,300-yard plateau. Yes, a good quarterback will have better numbers than a good running back. He’ll also have a bigger affect on the game.
2. Watson is the Best Player on the Best Team
The Heisman Trophy does not go to the most valuable college football player; it goes to the most outstanding. But take Watson off the Tigers and you’d see quickly how outstanding he really is. Every part of the Clemson offense revolved around the sophomore from Gainesville, Ga. Further, defensive coordinator Brent Venables could be more aggressive with his unit knowing that if a mistake was made and the opposition scored, Watson could get the points back in a hurry. Clemson has been the top-ranked team in the country since early November and Watson is the primary reason why.
3. Big Performances in Big Games
They say that to win the award you have to have Heisman moments. As the games got tougher and the lights shined brighter, Watson played his best. When challenged by NC State, he responded with 437 total yards and six touchdowns. The following week against Florida State, he threw for 297 yards with a touchdown and ran 107 more yards. In the Palmetto Bowl clash with South Carolina, he passed for 279, ran for 114, and had a part in four scores. Finally, this past Saturday in the ACC Championship Game, Watson torched North Carolina to the tune of 420 total yards and five touchdowns. When it mattered the most, Watson provided Heisman moments.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.