Touchdown Drive could soon become Deshaun Watson Drive. The road leads into the Gainesville High School campus from Pearl Nix Parkway and has a view of the school’s football practice field.
A proposal suggesting such an honor for the Gainesville native and Clemson quarterback goes before the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board Jan. 17.
It would be fitting, too, as the former Gainesville High standout has thrown for 86 touchdowns and ran for another 23 in his three seasons for the Tigers, twice finishing as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
The board will make a recommendation on the proposal, which will then go before the Gainesville City Council.
Watson has already graduated from Clemson, but his college career isn’t over yet. His second-ranked Tigers face No. 3 Ohio State on Dec. 31 in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., with the winner advancing to face No. 1 Alabama or No. 4 Washington for the national championship Jan. 9 in Tampa, Fla.
The Gainesville native is hoping to add a national title to the 2012 state championship he won as a junior for the Red Elephants.
Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said he knew Watson was special when he was a varsity starting quarterback from his first game as a ninth-grader.
“He is a better person than he is as a player,” Miller said. “I think that says a whole lot about him.”
Watson would be the second Gainesville football player to have a road near the school named after him, the other being 1963 Heisman Trophy runner-up Billy Lothridge.
Miller said he saw Dallas Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott on SportsCenter within the past few days and had a simple, yet profound, thought: “That could be Deshaun in another year or two.”
The coach said he appreciates Watson’s class and the way he has represented Gainesville. Miller said that even after finding success in college and being on the cusp of an NFL career, Watson remains grounded.
“Deshaun’s always got time for everybody,” Miller said. “He’s never too big for the situation.”
Sammy Smith, whose public relations firm Rainmaker & Associates is guiding the proposal for a group including Miller, echoed Miller’s praise of Watson.
“The young man has brought tremendous credit to the community,” Smith said. “And this is a small way to thank him for that credit and for his representing the community so well.”