Derrick Deshaun Watson is an American football quarterback for the Houston Texans of the National Football League. He played college football at Clemson, where he led the team to a national championship win in 2016. Watson was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, 12th overall, by the Texans. After having a productive rookie season cut short by injury, Watson guided the Texans to consecutive division titles between 2018 and 2019 and led the league in passing yards during 2020. He also received Pro Bowl honours in each of his three seasons as Houston’s primary starter. Watson is one of four NFL quarterbacks with a career passer rating of over 100.
Watson was born in Gainesville, Georgia on September 14, 1995, to Deann Watson and Don Richardson. He attended Gainesville High School, arriving there in the fall of 2010. He played for the Red Elephants football team. Gainesville head coach Bruce Miller had planned to start a rising junior to quarterback his spread offense, but Watson won the starting spot. He was the first freshman quarterback Coach Miller had ever started.
During his career, Watson set numerous state records, including total yards (17,134), total touchdowns (218), career passing yards (13,077), and career passing touchdowns (155). He rushed for 4,057 yards and 63 touchdowns. Watson excelled in his junior year, winning a state championship and earning accolades such as Junior All-American, 2014 Player to Watch, and 2014 Top 100 Recruit. During his sophomore and senior years, he led the Gainesville High School Football Team to the state semi-finals.
Watson received offers from numerous colleges before verbally committing to Clemson University on February 1, 2012, to play college football. He was ranked the number one quarterback recruit for the 2014 class by ESPN 300.
Watson enrolled at Clemson in January 2014. During his high school career, Watson had worn the number 4 jersey. At Clemson, that number had been retired after quarterback Steve Fuller graduated. However, Fuller allowed the number to come out of retirement so that Watson could wear it. He entered his true freshman season as the backup to starter Cole Stoudt, but still received extensive playing time. Through three games, he completed 29-of-41 passes for 479 yards with four touchdowns and no interception, outperforming Stoudt. Watson was named the Tigers’ starter on September 21. In Watson’s first career start, he set a school record with six touchdown passes and threw for 435 yards en-route to a 50–35 victory.
In 2015, Watson led Clemson to an undefeated 12–0 regular season and a number 1 ranking in the polls. After the regular season, the Tigers qualified for the ACC Championship Game, facing off against number 10North Carolina. Watson threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the game, to lead the Tigers to a 45–37 win over the Tar Heels, winning the ACC Championship for the first time since 2011. Watson was also named the ACC Championship Game MVP for his performance.
The Tigers were selected to participate in the 2016 College Football Playoffs as the number 1 seed. They faced off against the number 4 seed Oklahoma Sooners, in the Orange Bowl. Watson threw for 189 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 145 yards and a touchdown, as he led Clemson to a 37–17 victory over the Sooners. Watson was named the 2015 Orange Bowl Offensive MVP for his performance.
With the win, the Tigers advanced to the finals against the second seed Alabama Crimson Tide, where Clemson lost 45–40. Watson threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns in the game, and ran for another 73 yards on the ground in the losing effort. He surpassed the 4,000 yard passing mark for the season in this game. He set the record for most total yards in national championship game history, with 478 yards (405 passing / 73 rushing) against the nation’s best defence. In addition to throwing for over 4,000 yards, he also rushed for over 1,000 yards to complete his true sophomore season. Watson was the first player ever to accomplish this feat in the history of college football.
For his accomplishments during the 2015 season, Watson was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, where he finished third. Watson’s third-place finish in Heisman voting is the best finish in Clemson football history. He won the Davey O’Brien Award, which is awarded annually to the best college quarterback. He was also named the 2015 ACC Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
In the fall of 2016, Watson became the first player since Jason White in 2003–2004 to win the Davey O’Brien Award in back-to-back years. For the second year in row, Watson was named one of five Heisman Trophy candidates, where he again came up short of winning, as Louisville’s Lamar Jackson was awarded the Heisman Trophy for his efforts and performances throughout the 2016 season, finishing with nearly twice as many first place votes as Watson.
On November 8, 2016, Watson, along with three other Clemson players, Wayne Gallman, Artavis scott, and Mike Williams, declared for the NFL Draft. In December 2016, Watson graduated with a degree in Communication after three years at Clemson.
The Houston Texans drafted Watson in the first round (12th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Texans acquired the pick from the Cleveland Browns, trading their 25th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and their first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Houston had already traded (then, Houston starting quarterback)Brock Osweiller to Cleveland for draft picks earlier that year in part of what was widely considered the first major “salary dump” of the NFL. Watson was the third quarterback taken in the draft, behind Mitchel, who went second overall to the Chicago Bears, and Mahomes, who went tenth overall to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Personal life and Charity
Watson is a Christian who converted to the Southern Baptist Conventionafter coming to Houston.
In 2006, when Watson was 11, Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn, donated a home to his family. It was donated through Dunn’s charity Homes for the Holidays, who partnered with Habitat for Humanity. In 2017, Watson donated his first NFL game check to three cafeteria employees affected by Hurricane Harvey, who work at the Houston Texans’ NRG Stadium. The total amount donated was around $27,000.
Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans agreed to terms on a four-year, $156 million contract extension, with guaranteed salary at signing through 2022. As of 2021, Deshaun Watson’s net worth is $4 Billion.