Who: S.C. State (1-0) at Clemson (0-1)
When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson
TV: ACC Network
CLEMSON - Deshaun Watson's lifestyle would offend Johnny Football.
"We usually play pickup basketball, sit outside and hang out, watch TV, play games, go on the lake, just the little things like that," Watson said. "Go shopping, movies, out to eat, stuff like that."
Not exactly taking a page out of the Manziel playbook, as well-known freshman quarterbacks go. In an Instagram world, Watson is barely even MySpace.
For seven months, Watson walked Clemson's campus unassumingly, understanding he'd be recognized a bit more often than fellow freshmen like wide receiver Artavis Scott or running back Wayne Gallman.
"I don't like standing out. I just like being in the background," Watson admitted. "I guess with the position I play, it's hard for me to do that. I just went to class, went to football practice, and made sure I took care of my work first."
Now that Watson has played his first college game - tossing his first college touchdown to Charone Peake - reporters are finally allowed to interview Watson, a rock-star recruit and one of the Tigers' top prospects in recent years.
So far, Watson's handled the attention in stride. Whereas Tajh Boyd was naturally comfortable under the media microscope, Watson merely tolerates it, which is more similar to Clemson's starting quarterback, Cole Stoudt.
"Cole's a real relaxed, chill, laid-back guy, and I'm the same way," Watson said. "I don't like to say much."
Stoudt and Boyd were extremely close friends for three years, yet Stoudt mentioned Saturday night after Clemson's 45-21 loss at Georgia his relationship with Watson "if anything, was better than what that was."
It helped to position Watson's locker right next to Stoudt's.
"We just try to make each other better each day," Watson said. "I support Cole to the fullest, and he supports me too. No matter who's in the game, we always cheer each other on and know that each one of us can get the job done."
Watson played three drives Saturday, and as a rookie making his debut just 40 miles from home in Gainesville, Ga., he'll be remembered in the short term for the first one, going 78 yards in six plays. That was capped by a 30-yard touchdown dart to Peake that made ESPN's montage of top plays during the first week of college football.
"It was a good throw, but Charone made me look good, catching it and hauling it in, running the perfect route for me, attacking the ball," Watson said. "Offensive line gave me great protection, and the running back picking up the blitz off the edge. All those guys made me look good. But it was a pretty good throw."
In the popularity contest among backup quarterbacks, Watson might be a first-team All-American. Soon as he enters Clemson's home opener Saturday vs. South Carolina State, the crowd is bound to make some noise for Watson, who didn't even get a chance to delight Death Valley in April since he broke his collarbone three days before the spring game.
"It's going to be a great experience," Watson said. "I can feel the vibe on campus now for gameday, seeing all that orange in the stands, and hearing all the fans cheer."
More than 90,000 red-clad fans were bearing down on the Tigers in Athens, but when offensive coordinator Chad Morris informed Watson the team's fifth drive would be his first, Watson never flinched.
"See, the thing with him, he's always so calm," Scott said. "When his name was called, he was so relaxed, like he's been there already before. I watched him - he didn't panic or anything."
It's not the first time Watson has logged time on a sideline of a massive football dwelling in Georgia. He worked three years in high school as a ballboy for his favorite NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons.
"It was great to get to know Julio (Jones), Roddy White, Matt Ryan, Sean Witherspoon, and a whole bunch of other guys," Watson said.
Watson doesn't compare his game to any pro quarterbacks, but said he enjoys watching Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson.
"All those guys are winners," Watson said. "Each one of those players has a different part of the game I can take a piece of and try to learn from."
For now, Watson's content to learn from Stoudt, who still owns the locker room - even though Watson will continue to siphon playing time in preparation for when it's his turn as the starter.
"We've got to get Deshaun ready, just in case," Morris said. "Obviously, we know what's ahead for him in years to come. It also helps Cole out as well."
"I can't get discouraged, because my opportunity's coming soon," Watson said. "I just have to pay my dues. That's what Cole did the past three years behind Tajh, so it's his time to shine. I'm supporting him, and I know he will be a great quarterback for this team this year."
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