Deshaun Watson was turning heads long before he ever suited up for the Clemson Tigers or was a first-round draft pick for the Houston Texans.
A four-year starter at Gainesville High School in Georgia, Watson earned the starting job in eighth grade. He never played a snap of junior varsity football. Not even as a freshman.
"When he was an eighth grader, we had our spring varsity football game," Gainesville High School head coach Bruce Miller said in an interview with SportsRadio 610. "We started him in the game and he was 22-for-25 as an upcoming ninth grader, going to be a freshman."
Watson earned the starting role from a senior and started the season opener his freshman year. The Red Elephants lost, but 14-year-old Watson still threw three touchdown passes in his first high school game.
After his freshman year, Watson attended a football camp at Clemson where he met head coach Dabo Swinney. It wasn't long before Watson received an offer to play for him.
"As a ninth grader walking into Clemson, it was actually my first visit, so I was eyes wide open and surprised, all the great talent that was around me, all the big buildings and the big stadium," Watson said. "I just went in there as a young kid, just went in there and played football and try to learn as much as I can. I guess the next week I got the offer, and I knew that was the perfect spot for me."
Watson graduated early from high school, enrolling at Clemson in January of 2014. The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist balanced his school courses with his football preparation, graduating early, but not before leading the Tigers to back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances, one national championship, and a 32-3 record as the starting quarterback.
"Several times, the Clemson coaches would call me and say, do you he was in our training facility at 9:30 last night working on stuff and he is a film hound," Miller said. "He loves to watch film. He loves to dissect film. Very intelligent, had a 3.7 grade point average in high school."
Miller isn't the only coach effusive in his praise for Watson. Earlier this year, Swinney compared the Texans first-round draft pick to an NBA legend, saying that teams that passed on Watson during the draft were passing on the Michael Jordan.
"It caught me off guard, actually," Watson said. "I was actually training in California and after I got done working out I saw the quotes and I just kind of smiled because I knew it was Coach Swinney. That's how Swinney is. I understand I'm not Michael Jordan. I guess he sees greatness in me, and hopefully in 10-15 years people are going to talk about my name like they do Michael Jordan."
Watson threw for 10,163 yards and 90 touchdowns in his career at Clemson, setting a school record in career completion percentage (.674), passing efficiency (157.5) and total offense per game (318.3).
Check out the best photos of QB Deshaun Watson during his time at Clemson.