Relationships accumulate Deshaun Watson from Clemson to megadeal with Houston Texans

12: 40 PM ET

  • Sarah BarshopESPN Workers Author


    • Covered the Packers for ESPN Milwaukee
    • Marquette College graduate

After theHouston Texansblew a 24-0 lead closing January in an excruciating loss within the AFC divisional playoffs to theKansas City Chiefs, quarterbackDeshaun Watsonbecame requested within the postgame recordsdata conference what might possibly maybe maybe had been a tough query.

“Accomplish you suspect Bill O’Brien is the honest coach to lead you guys?”

Some avid gamers might possibly maybe well also have voiced frustration. Watson did not hesitate.

“You have doubt, however I create no longer,” Watson stated. “I love that man, and I’m going to always play laborious for that man. You all can narrate what possibilities are you’ll maybe maybe additionally very properly be wanting to claim within the media, however as lengthy as I am at quarterback, he’s frigid with me. He’s got my coronary heart, and he’s going to glean my 110% whenever I step on that arena.”

For Texans coach O’Brien, who had new manager added to his tasks a couple of weeks later, Watson’s words confirmed the tough relationship built over three seasons in Houston.

“Deshaun is a famous player, an ultimate higher particular person and we desire him here for a without a doubt very lengthy time,” O’Brien stated. “Any time you hear a player narrate that about you, it map plenty, however I feel the identical map about him. … Obviously, we feel so strongly about him and the manner forward for him in this offense, in this organization, and we desire him here for a without a doubt very lengthy time.”

The Texans build their money within the attend of O’Brien’s words on Saturday,agreeing with Watson on a four-year, $160 million contract extension. The overall cost of the deal, to be signed later Saturday, is $177.54 million with practically $111 million in guarantees, trailing handiest quarterbackPatrick Mahomes‘ 12-year sort out the Kansas City Chiefs because the predominant in NFL history.

The signing comes months after O’Brien modified into heads across the league when he made up our minds to change the player closest to Watson on the Texans’ roster: three-time first-workers All-ProDeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins, who’s now with theArizona Cardinals, caught 219 new-season passes from Watson within the past two seasons.

Care for the postgame query, the synthetic became one other check to Watson’s dedication to the franchise that drafted him. And all once more, Watson did not provide public criticism. Or no longer it’s a testament to how the quarterback values relationships above many issues in his existence. Or no longer it’s why he became so joyful signing the brand new deal and equivalent to how he handled being regarded as one of the fundamental head recruits within the nation coming out of Gainesville, Georgia.

“Football is what [Watson] does for a dwelling,” stated Auburn offensive coordinator Chad Morris, the mature Clemson offensive coordinator who recruited Watson. “Or no longer it’s no longer who he’s. And I mediate when you happen to scrutinize at his observe document of who he’s as a particular person and who he’s as a particular person… that after he tells you he’s going to create one thing, he’s going to create it.

“Could well need to you glean in his within circle, it’s a bond love none other.”

Sticking to his dedication

Now not lengthy after he became hired at Clemson, Morris sat in his office searching at video of ability recruits. It did not accumulate lengthy for the freshman quarterback from Gainesville High Faculty to face out.

“He stepped up and I indicate, he let crawl of the ball and that ball jumped out of his hand,” Morris stated. “I stated, ‘Wow, this kid is actual a freshman?’ After which I watched the 2nd clip and the pocket create of broke down spherical him and he extended plays with his feet. And I am love ‘Holy cow, that’s without a doubt correct for a freshman kid.’ But the particular person that without a doubt got me became the third clip. And the third clip became that he handed the ball off and he carried his incorrect out. And he carried it out love eight to 10 yards down the arena. And I presumed at that level, I am love, ‘Wait a minute. A freshman. Man it’s laborious to glean any one to contend with their fakes out. But a freshman to create it?’

“‘Wow, this kid’s got one thing to him.'”

Morris supplied Watson a scholarship on the tip of his freshman year, the 2nd player he supplied after he left the College of Tulsa to become Clemson’s offensive coordinator.

That June, Watson went to soccer camp at Clemson and impressed.

Clemson’s recruiting coordinator/vast receivers coach Jeff Scott stated the staff “might possibly maybe well expose … he became going to have a possibility to be regarded as one of the fundamental fascinating quarterbacks within the nation coming out of highschool.” After Watson left the camp, Clemson made him an decent provide.

“I became talking to Coach Scott, and Coach Scott stated, has Deshaun been supplied yet?” stated Lyn Marsh, a coach from Watson’s high faculty workers. “And I stated, ‘No he hasn’t gotten supplied yet.’ He stated, ‘Smartly we’re going to be his first provide.’

“So he did that, and he called his mother, and the fundamental thing his mother stated is, ‘Are you able to commit now?’ She became slightly serious about it.”

The camp ended on a Friday, and the following day, Morris and his family had been headed to the seashore for a three-week vacation.

But with the vehicle already packed for the force, Morris chanced on out Watson’s basketball workers became coming to Clemson for a camp that weekend.

“And I am love, ‘OK, I’ve got a decision here to create,'” Morris stated. “Accomplish I inaugurate my vacation now, or create I prolong my vacation and encourage this kid to reach attend to Clemson? So as that’s what I did. I became sitting within the gym on the fundamental row when he walks attend in for basketball camp. And I am sitting there. And naturally, we embody, and all of that.”

Moments love that that made Watson’s relationship with Morris grow swiftly, and it made Watson tag Clemson became the honest utter for him.

“[Morris] did a famous job of sharp from actual the recruit-coach relationship to in reality a mentor and intensely, very shut create of player-coach relationship,” Scott stated. “And continuously these relationships create no longer accumulate that next step till the young man is for your campus. But actual for the reason that map that coach Morris recruited him and to be honest, the manner Deshaun spread out and allowed coach Morris to recruit him, it became nearly a player-coach relationship, even when Deshaun became serene in high faculty.”

When Watson became in 10th grade, his mother became diagnosed with tongue most cancers. Morris and head coach Dabo Swinney, as properly because the rest of what Watson refers to as his Clemson family, made themselves available to him precise through that tricky time. It helped forge a stronger bond.

“I actual actual mediate he felt love every time he would crawl up [to Clemson] and actual being spherical coach Morris,” stated Michael Perry, Watson’s offensive coordinator at Gainesville High Faculty. Clemson gave Watson every probability to communicate over with, whether it became for basketball games or basketball camps. Marsh brought Watson to many Clemson soccer games, from his sophomore to senior years of highschool.

“The Clemson family, they had been within the attend of me through every thing,” Watson stated. “When I purchased that provide and I dedicated to them after my freshman, going into my sophomore year, it became family. It became a ‘when you are in, possibilities are you’ll maybe maybe additionally’t glean out.’ It became a form of emotions where I did not are wanting to glean out.”

Swinney doesn’t continuously love early commitments because he prefers to attend till they’re willing to create a decision, in utter of have avid gamers commit and decommit. He once when in contrast a dedication to marriage. “It’s seemingly you’ll maybe well seemingly date within the occasion you are no longer married, however within the occasion you are dedicated to somebody, you are dedicated 100 percent,” Swinney once expressed to Watson.

With Watson, it became varied.

“Because Deshaun had arrive up to so many games and shall we expose that he without a doubt cherished Clemson and he without a doubt enjoyed the instructing workers and became developing without a doubt correct relationships,” stated Scott, who took over as Clemson’s offensive coordinator after Morris, “Coach Swinney became very joyful to unbiased derive his dedication. … He felt love Deshaun became very serious and precise.

“And that became without a doubt earlier than Deshaun took off to become, without a doubt over the following year and a half of … he went from being actual a correct young prospect that another people knew about, to being in some rankings, the No. 1 quarterback within the nation. And he by no map wavered.”

Several times when Watson became at Clemson for soccer games with Marsh, Scott took the pair into the recruiting room.

“He confirmed him, scrutinize, we’re no longer recruiting one other quarterback the year that you arrive in,” Marsh stated. “We’re that dedicated to you.”

Watson dedicated in February of his sophomore year. He did accumulate one talk over with to Auburn, a utter Morris, now the offensive coordinator at Auburn, stated Watson had “a precise curiosity” in.

“After his day crawl back and forth to Auburn,” Morris stated, “I bear in mind coach Swinney being straight with him and announcing, ‘Survey, we’re dedicated to you. Whenever you are no longer dedicated to us, then we prefer to scrutinize spherical.'”

“I suggested them, after we talked, it became nothing that I modified in my recruitment,” Watson stated. “I actual wished to cross someplace that weekend and crawl someplace varied. That’s what I did. I enjoyed that time at Auburn and I serene dedicated to Clemson.”

Fulfilling a promise, on a torn ACL

Long after Watson had dedicated to Clemson, Marsh had a query.

“Deshaun, possibilities are you’ll maybe seemingly prefer to create me a promise,” Marsh suggested Watson. “He stated, ‘What’s that?’ I stated, ‘You prefer to promise when you are at Clemson you are by no map going to lose to South Carolina. He stated, ‘It’s seemingly you’ll maybe well seemingly wager on it.’ He stated, ‘I would no longer ever lose to South Carolina.'”

That promise, one he later made to Swinney and the Clemson instructing workers as properly, became examined early in Watson’s college profession. Nearing the tip of his freshman season, he injured his knee in opposition to Georgia Disclose. Now not up to a week later, Watson tore his ACL in observe. Two games in a while the schedule: Clemson’s new-season finale in opposition to South Carolina. Clemson had no longer won the Palmetto Bowl in 5 years.

And so, after being assured by the Clemson medical workers that his peril might possibly maybe well not glean worse, and clearing it with his mother, Watson performed within the game with a torn ACL.

“On the entire, his knee brace became his ACL this day, ” Swinney suggested reporters after the game, when he made the announcement.

Watson threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for 2 extra within the 35-17 victory.

“I became an assistant coach on the time, and I did not even know till after the game,” Scott stated. “So he went available and chose to play because he wished to finish the lumber that South Carolina had overwhelmed Clemson 5 years in a row and he knew that with him playing we would have plenty higher probability, so he went out and performed on on the entire one leg and we had the fundamental steal over South Carolina in 5 years. After which a week later he had his ACL surgery.”

Watson started a brand new lumber. Clemson hasn’t lost many games since he took over as initiating quarterback in 2014. And the Tigers have won the Palmetto Bowl six years in a row.

An ultimate wanting substitute

Watson had actual carried out a exercise in March when he chanced on out that O’Brien had traded Hopkins to the Cardinals.

Watson’s trainer Quincy Avery looked at his cellular phone, apprehensive.

“Yo, create you know Hop actual got traded?” Watson’s longtime within most coach requested. Avery posted — and then swiftly deleted — a video of Watson’s response to Twitter.

“It became actual, in spite of every thing, abruptly,” Watson stated. “I wasn’t wanting ahead to it. But love I stated, that’s actual the manner the industry goes. That is one thing that I have slightly remarkable no protect watch over of. The organization had to create what they had to create, and D-Hop — he had to create what he had to create.”

“It caught him off guard quite,” Avery stated. “He became apprehensive. I mediate he became dissatisfied. I mediate any one would be dissatisfied. When the most fascinating receiver within the NFL, or regarded as one of the fundamental fascinating receivers within the NFL, will get traded away … so that became … It became love a whirlwind of emotion that came about without a doubt swiftly.”

But on the opposite hand Watson felt, he by no map criticized the organization or O’Brien for the cross.

“That is their industry and that’s their lane,” Watson stated. “I am no longer going to step out of my lane and glean in that. But I do know that me and Hop have a famous relationship. I do know that me and OB have a famous relationship. But that’s one thing that I cannot play both sides in. I am actual going to take a seat within the center and explore it from afar. That is their industry and I am no longer going to glean into it.”

And despite the changes and challenges of the past year, Watson hasn’t strayed from that mindset.

“In point of fact, I’ve by no map considered Deshaun narrate a tainted thing about any one, so I wouldn’t query him to inaugurate with the Texans and Bill O’Brien,” Avery stated. “Deshaun will get frustrated love all people else, however he’s no longer … he might possibly maybe well also no longer publicly narrate one thing tainted about any one, it doesn’t topic what you narrate about him.”


2: 18

Ryan Clark and Mike Greenberg debate whether Deshaun Watson would have as remarkable success and as many accolades as Patrick Mahomes if he performed for the Chiefs.

With O’Brien, there’s mutual belief

Watson stood up for O’Brien after the loss in Kansas City, however it wasn’t the fundamental time he’d performed that. Whereas on injured reserve after tearing his ACL as a rookie in 2018, the Texans had been nearing the tip of a season where they carried out 4-12. In mid-December after a form of losses, O’Brien suggested reporters he wished to be attend in Houston the following year. That day, Watson tweeted, “& I desire OB with me!”

Now not up to a month later, the Texans gave O’Brien a contract extension. At some level of Big Bowl week, Watson suggested the Houston Account the tweets supporting O’Brien weren’t for the media, however relatively “me expressing how I feel about him.”

“That exhibits how remarkable I care about coach O’Brien and what I mediate we are in a position to create together,” Watson suggested the Account. “… Or no longer it’s correct to have OB attend. We now have a famous relationship, and we’re going to continue to grow it.”

That relationship has been built on belief and sweat. Watson “works laborious daily,” O’Brien says, and the very fact the quarterback feels the identical map about his head coach is seemingly regarded as one of the fundamental causes there might possibly be so remarkable respect between them.

“I feel love I create no longer mediate that people perceive the work ethic that he puts in, the time that he puts in to explore film and accumulate a scrutinize at to guarantee that this organization is on the head of its game,” Watson stated of O’Brien. “He’s doubtlessly the toughest employee in this constructing, in this organization. He’s no longer going to discontinuance till he’s a champion. That’s what I love about him.”

Now, in his fourth NFL season, Watson has confirmed an closing dedication to O’Brien and the Texans by agreeing to the extension on Saturday, now tied to the franchise who traded up to draft him for 5 extra years.

“That claims every thing possibilities are you’ll maybe seemingly prefer to grab about him,” Morris stated. “That tells about his loyalty, him as a particular person. It’s a ways without a doubt, deeply embedded in him. Could well need to you meet his family and perceive what he’s had to fight through. He’s infected to cross away a legacy. As he left his legacy at Clemson, he’s infected to accumulate his legacy and crawl away his legacy with the Texans.”



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