Deshaun Watson wore a Kelly green suit Friday night while appearing as the featured speaker at The CHARLEYS, the Post and Courier’s sports awards presentation at the Charleston Gaillard Center. Meanwhile, most NFL teams are green with envy, knowing the Houston Texans have perhaps the league’s top young franchise quarterback. Clemson’s national champion and two-time Heisman Trophy finalist despite missing more than half the 2017 season with a knee injury made the All-NFL Rookie Team.
Watson, 22, talked about the Texans, Clemson, charity work, Nick Saban and Japanese food with the Post and Courier’s Gene Sapakoff:
How is the ACL rehab going and what is your timetable for getting back to 100 percent?
There’s really no timetable. The knee is doing well and the rehab has been good. My workouts with my teammates have been awesome and now I’m just getting that chemistry better with the team.
Did you think you would be so good in the NFL so soon?
Of course; I never settle for anything less. I have high expectations for myself and people around me and I just go into work and I love playing the game of football.
It was such a cool thing last September when you gave your first NFL game check to those three NRG Stadium cafeteria workers hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. How nice was it to be able to do something like that and what motivated you to do it?
It was just an emotional time, not just for myself and the team but the whole city of Houston. We needed things to lift the city and the community. Nobody really knew about it until the day it happened and it just came from the heart.
A little word-association here with some people and some teams …
Great coach. Legendary. Dominant. A guy that a lot of people want to play for.
The 2018 Clemson Tigers?
Dominance. Wins. Team atmosphere. Great chemistry. Champions.
Great teammate, great brother and great mentor. A guy that works hard and makes sure that everyone around him works hard.
The world champion Houston Astros?
Beasts. All-Stars. Everyone on that team is great. They’re also great people. Great vibes on that team and they’re going to continue to be champions.
Like a brother. Funny. Works hard. Makes plays. Very, very talented. Makes sure I’m good and I make sure he’s good.
South Carolina Gamecocks?
The Houston Rockets?
Momentum. A team that is playing together. Very talented. All-Stars. A team that has the opportunity to be champions and do it for the city.
Great mentor. Great father-figure. A guy that is looking for greatness out of his players and coaches and who sets up a great environment.
The 2018 Houston Texans?
Champions. A team that’s going to come out play with a lot of grit, a lot of emotion and have a chip on their shoulder and do what the Houston Texans usually do, which is win.
Bryant and Lawrence
What did you think of the 2017 season Kelly Bryant had at quarterback at Clemson?
He had a great season. He got the guys back to the College Football Playoff. Of course, the Sugar Bowl didn’t go their way but it happens sometimes. Now he can carry that team with a lot of momentum and a lot of swagger. He has a great head on his shoulders and he’s going to compete.
With Trevor Lawrence there now, how do you think it’s going to go at quarterback for Clemson this season?
I’m not sure but if I had a choice I’d keep Kelly Bryant — a guy that led you and won 12 games and got you back in the College Football Playoff and made all the plays. He’s proven he can do the right things on and off the field so there’s no point in changing.
What did Nick Saban say to you when you were walking off the field after the national championship game loss to Alabama in Arizona?
He said, ‘Heck of a game. Keep your head up. Walk off the field with pride and confidence.’ He had a lot of respect for me, I had a lot of respect for him and it was a great battle.
And then what was the exchange like in Tampa the next year after you beat Alabama for the national title?
Same thing but kind of vice versa. He just said, ‘Continue to be great.’ Nothing too long because, of course, they were disappointed. But was nice having him behind me and having my back during the draft process and even during last season.
Brady and Dez
What’s the ultimate favorite Deshaun Watson meal — breakfast, lunch or dinner?
So many … Probably steak and shrimp Hibachi.
So the Texans open the 2018 season against the Patriots. You guys had joint practices last summer with the Patriots. What was it like being around Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?
It was kind of a quick process. Still in the learning stage for myself. But it was good just to see those guys be professionals and know they’ve been very successful for a long time, and watch Brady and how he practices seeing how he wants everyone around him to be detailed and trying to be the best each and every day.
Do you want Dez Bryant on the Texans?
I mean it would be cool. I know Dez and we’ve talked many times. Great guy. I’d love to him but I’ll leave that to OB (head coach Bill O’Brien) and (General Manager) Brian (Gaine).
You guys have a Sunday night game against the Cowboys this season. The Cowboys are America’s Team, right? But which team is Texas’ Team?
The Texans. Houston. Of course.
Where do you think you will be in 10 years?
Hard to say. For sure, Super Bowl champions. Winning a lot of games and very successful. Continuing to play football, that’s my ultimate goal but I’m just living it day-by-day and making sure everything I do now leads me to what I want to be in 10 years.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff