Deshaun Watson professes no surprise at his instant success in the NFL.
“Definitely not,” the former Clemson quarterback said Friday night at the first CHARLEYS Awards at the Gaillard Center. “I always expect the best from myself, and I did in college too. I knew in Houston I would be surrounded by great coaches and teammates.”
Watson set the NFL on fire as a rookie last season, completing 61.8 percent of his passes for 1,699 yards with 19 touchdowns in only seven games before his season was derailed by a knee injury.
Watson took time out from his rehabilitation on Friday to appear at the CHARLEYS, where he projected a mature professionalism as he mingled with fans and guests. Dressed in a slim-fitting green suit and clean white kicks, Watson posed for pictures and sat for a Q-and-A session with CHARLEYS host Warren Peper and Post and Courier columnist Gene Sapakoff.
One of the coolest moments of the night was when Watson, just 22, met with Summerville coaching legend John McKissick, who is 91.
McKissick received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the CHARLEYS, honoring a 63-year career at Summerville High School in which he won 621 games and 10 state championships, winning more games than any other coach in the history of football.
Accompanied by some of his six great-grandchildren, McKissick acknowledged his family and was joined on stage by his wife, Joan. Sweet surprise — Joan also was honored, with a CHARLEYS Award for Best Coach's Wife.
Other highlights of the CHARLEYS, sponsored by The Post and Courier:
• Former Charleston Southern baseball player Chris Singleton, whose mother was among the nine slain at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, won the Inspirational Award for his memorable "Love is stronger than hate" speech in the aftermath of the tragic shooting. Singleton's basketball coach at Goose Creek High School, Blake Hall, accepted the award for Singleton, who is playing minor league baseball with the South Bend Cubs.
• South Carolina women's basketball great A'ja Wilson sent a thank-you video after winning the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) Award. Now with the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces, Wilson ended her video with a charming "Baaaaa!"
• College of Charleston basketball coach Earl Grant took home Best Dressed Award. Grant hooked up his assistant coaches with new suits from a King Street haberdashery after the Cougars clinched their bid to the NCAA Tournament.
• Hanahan teenager Scotty Parker rode his bike onstage to receive the Coast to Coast for Charity Award. Parker raised more than $500,000 for Water Mission with a coast-to-coast bicycle ride.
Other CHARLEYS awards:
• Actor Bill Murray, named the World's No. 1 Sports Fan.
• College of Charleston basketball standout Joe Chealey, who took home the Tremendous Teamwork Teammate Award.
• The Big-Hearted Yankee Even a Red Sox Fan Could Love Award went to New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, who played at College of Charleston.
• Clemson football assistant coaches Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott were named Co-Coordinators of the Year.
• South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley won the Bowl Comeback Award for rallying the Gamecocks past Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
• Former Summerville star A.J. Green won the Greatest NFL Catch Ever Award.
• Carlos Dunlap, the Cincinnati Bengals' star from Fort Dorchester High School, won the NFL Community Service Award.
• South Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin received the Final Four Math Award for his work with Martin's Math Club in S.C. schools.
• South Carolina Stingrays' mascot Cool Ray was honored for Community Service of the Year.
• The Charleston RiverDogs were recognized for keeping it interesting with colorful, zany promotions with the award for Best Outdoor Promotion of the Year.
• The Charleston's Tennis Ambassador Award went to WTA touring pro Shelby Rogers, a former ballgirl at the Family Circle Cup.
• The Hardest Working Woman in Sports Broadcasting is Mount Pleasant's Debbie Antonelli, who calls basketball games for ESPN, Big Ten Network, CBS, FOX, and Westwood One, among other outlets.
• Porter-Gaud alum Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks was the choice for South Carolina's Best NBA star.
• The Better Late Than Never Award went to former Citadel baseball coach Chal Port and ex-Bulldog basketball coach and athletic director Les Robinson, who became the first Citadel representatives in the SoCon Hall of Fame.
• And the Mr. Clutch Award went to Charleston Southern kicker Tyler Tekac. The former Stratford High School standout booted two last-season field goals to win games for the Bucs last season.