Murphy: Deshaun Watson's rise to greatness no surprise to local fans
Gainesville High graduate Deshaun Watson is one step closer to making his Heisman Trophy dreams a reality. On Monday, the quarterback for No. 1 Clemson (13-0) was named one of three finalists headed New York City for Saturday’s presentation of the Heisman Trophy, the biggest individual accolade a college football player can garner.
Watson will be in the running for the award with Alabama running back Derrick Henry and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey.
Watson, who guided the Red Elephants to the Class AAAAA state title in 2012, has thrown for 3,512 yards and 30 touchdowns through the air, while rushing for 977 yards and another 11 scores for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. This season, Watson has already earned the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year honors.
Watson is part of a special season for the Tigers, who are looking for their first national championship since doing so in 1981. On Dec. 31, Clemson faces No. 4 Oklahoma (11-1) in the semifinal of the College Football Playoff at the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla.
In high school, Watson shattered many state records for quarterbacks, including career passing yards (13,077) and career touchdowns with 218.
Watson is the second Gainesville High graduate to be a Heisman Trophy finalist. In 1963, Georgia Tech quarterback Billy Lothridge finished second behind winner Roger Staubach, from the Naval Academy. Lothridge went on to play nine seasons in the NFL as a punter and safety for four different teams.
Lothridge, who died in 1996, retired after winning the Super Bowl with the 1972 Miami Dolphins.