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Former GHS star Watson makes college debut today in Athens

Freshman QB likely to play as Clemson visits Georgia

POSTED: August 29, 2014 8:09 p.m.
Mark Crammer /Anderson Independent-Mail

Clemson freshman quarterback Deshaun Waton, left, hands an autograph book back to a young fan Aug, 17 at the Tigers' Fan Appreciation Day at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

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Fans of Gainesville High, Georgia and Clemson will come together today as the state’s record holder in career passing yards and touchdowns returns home for his collegiate debut.

Deshaun Watson, a 2014 graduate of Gainesville High and freshman Clemson quarterback, may see action in today’s game against Georgia, slated for a 5:30 p.m. start in Athens (ESPN).

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris emphasized that Watson will see playing time in his freshman season and will not redshirt, likely starting with today’s opening game down the road from his old stomping grounds.

“Deshaun Watson wasn’t going to redshirt anyway,” Morris said at a media outing in July. “... That was the consensus from the get-go and that was the consensus after watching him the first couple of practices in the spring. We knew that he was going to be special. He is going to play this year and he is going to play at Georgia.”

When Watson will hit the field against the Bulldogs is still up in the air. Tigers’ head coach Dabo Swinney said in a Tuesday press conference that the staff had not set a specific time to put Watson in for starter Cole Stoudt.

“The perfect time is when we put him in,” Swinney said. “That’s the perfect time. When we put him in, that’s the perfect time to put him in.”

Watson was unavailable for comment due to a team rule against freshmen access to the media before the first game.

Despite playing him behind Stoudt in tonight’s game, Swinney believes Watson will make a name for himself quickly at Clemson.

“He has a great understanding of our system already,” Swinney said in a radio interview this week. “(He’s) big, fast, he can make the all the throws, high football IQ and a great leader. I don’t have any doubt if he stays healthy, everybody is going to know who Deshaun Watson is over the next few years.”

However, friends and family hoping to make the trip to Sanford Stadium to see Watson face Georgia will have to settle for big-screen TVs and radio broadcasts, as tickets to the Bulldogs’ season opener were hard to come by. Even Gainesville High coach Bruce Miller will not attend the game due to a lack of available tickets.

“The high school coaches usually get around three complimentary tickets to a game, but this game was so big they didn’t even allow that,” Miller said. “I’ll have the best seat in the house Saturday night in front of my big-screen TV cheering for Deshaun.”

Miller did note that the people able to get tickets from the Gainesville area are excited about seeing Watson play.

“I know a lot of people that are going or watching that are Georgia fans and said they’re pulling for Georgia but are also cheering Deshaun on,” he said.

For those staying in town for the big game, Laurel Park will be showing the event on a big screen at the 2014 Laurel Summer Fest. Information about the event is available at Other local restaurants with large televisions will also be showing the game.


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