Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney stated Tuesday that Tigers junior quarterback Deshaun Watson will be honored during the team’s Senior Day festivities with the expectation he’ll enter the 2017 NFL draft.
Dan Hope of the Independent Mail passed along the update from Swinney, who confirmed Watson along with teammates Wayne Gallman, Artavis Scott and Mike Williams have expressed to him they plan on going pro after the current season comes to a close.
Watson is enjoying another strong season for Clemson. The quarterback has completed 64.4 percent of his throws for 2,497 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 370 yards and two touchdowns.
The Georgia native’s success is a crucial reason the Tigers are 9-0 and are on track to earn a berth in the College Football Playoff. In addition, his Heisman Trophy case would be strong if not for the otherworldly season Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is putting together.
Making the NFL jump after this season always seemed like Watson’s logical next step. That said, he stated in February he wasn’t planning to make a final decision until after his junior year ended, per Stephen Hawkins of the Associated Press:
I won’t make that decision until the end of the season, whenever that final game is, and depending on if I stay healthy and how good of a season this is. My main focus is training hard and putting on my weight and getting this whole team on the right page to finish that unfinished business we need to finish. The NFL and all that stuff, I’m not even going to worry about it. … I only get to experience this college football once. I want to live it up while I can.
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been thinking ahead, though. Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported the dynamic playmaker took out a $5 million insurance policy to protect against a career-ending injury before he got a chance to reach the NFL.
“It gives me peace of mind,” Watson said.
Furthermore, Pete Thamel of Campus Rush noted Watson is set to graduate in December with a degree in communications studies after just three years.
So while the quarterback hasn’t made anything official yet, Swinney’s latest comments, combined with all of the other factors, point toward him heading for the NFL next season.
Watson should be a hot commodity, too. CBS Sports currently ranks him as the No. 10 overall prospect in the 2017 class and the second-best QB behind only North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky.
He can improve that stock even further with a memorable finish to the season. The Tigers have three regular-season games left, starting with a Senior Day clash against Pittsburgh on Saturday.