When it came to setting state records, Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson didn’t even need his senior year at Gainesville (Ga.) High.
By the end of his junior year – when he led Gainesville to a state title — Watson owned Georgia career records for passing touchdowns and total yards. By the time he finished his high school career, those numbers had ballooned to 17,134 yards and 155 passing touchdowns.
That went along with a state-record 13,077 passing yards, 4,057 rushing yards, 63 rushing touchdowns, a state-record 218 total touchdowns and state player of the year awards as a sophomore, junior and season.
“The thing about Deshaun is he could throw all the passes,” high school coach Bruce Miller told The State in Columbia, S.C. “He could throw the ball in there. He could throw with touch on it. When he scrambled, he looked down field for people open. He didn’t mind taking off running.”
Watson, now a sophomore quarterback at Clemson, made the American Family Insurance ALL-USA second team as a senior and was the top-ranked dual-threat quarterback and the No. 16 player overall coming out of high school by ESPN. (In case you are wondering, the ALL-USA first team quarterback was Allen, Texas, junior Kyler Murray, who would be named the ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year as a senior before departing for Texas A&M.)
But Watson didn’t just post big numbers for Gainesville. He won and not just football games.
As an eighth grader, Watson won the Georgia state championship in the high jump by clearing 6-foot-2. He sole focus became football after his eighth-grade year and he never competed in track again.
On the football field, the Red Elephants won the Class AAAAA state title in his junior year – the lone state title in school history — and reached the state semifinals in 2011 and 2013 with double-digit wins each year under Miller. Watson also started as a freshman.
Watson has won games for the Tigers so far, too. After an injury-plague freshman season, Watson had led Clemson to the No. 1 ranking and a date in the national semifinals against Oklahoma.
Named the ACC Player of the Year, Watson has 3,512 passing yards and 30 touchdowns along with 977 yards on the ground and 11 scores.
And in a note of trivia from The Gainesville Time, the newspaper in Watson’s hometown. He is the high school’s second Heisman finalist. Georgia Tech quarterback Billy Lothridge finished second behind Navy’s Roger Staubach in 1963.
Watson is hoping to be the high school’s first Heisman winner, just like he’s been No. 1 in the state record books.