Dabo Swinney talking about Deshaun Watson is enough to make any Texans fan, or any NFL fan, excited for the 2018 season.
The Clemson Tigers head football coach, who was in Houston Wednesday night for the annual Paul "Bear" Bryant awards, admits he often would put on the Texans game on Sundays while working last season.
"I'm disappointed he got hurt but I'm so happy that he got a chance to show what he could do," Swinney said on Texans TV. "You don't go to New England, you don't go as a rookie and do what he did and get lucky. This guy is brilliant."
His transition from college to the NFL was better than anyone could have anticipated, except for maybe Swinney. Watson set an NFL record for the most passing touchdowns through a player's first seven career games in NFL history (19) before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He also recorded three games with four-or-more passing touchdowns, joining Fran Tarkenton (1961) as the only two rookies to do so.
Watson's first start came on the road in Cincinnati in a primetime game, when he rushed for a 49-yard touchdown. Watson made his second start in New England against the Super Bowl-defending champions. The 22-year-old's poise in big-pressure situations did not surprise his former coach.
"He just went about his business, always focused, never gets distracted," Swinney said of Watson's persona at Clemson. "He is too busy being great to be distracted by anything that doesn't matter. That's so unique for a young person. In today's world, it's special."
Swinney has known the Texans starting quarterback was a special talent since he first met him in ninth grade. Watson committed to the Tigers the next year and arrived in the spring of 2014. He weighed around 180 pounds, approximately 35 pounds lighter than his listed NFL weight, but left a hefty impression on the coach.
"The first day of installation - he came in the spring – it was mind-blowing," Swinney said. "Like, it was like he'd been doing it for three years. Unbelievable how brilliant he is and how he works and loves to prepare and just his poise and maturity for a young guy – unbelievable. So, I saw that right out of the gate and whatever you asked him to do, he did it to the nth degree."
After winning a national title for Clemson his final season, Watson was projected by many to be a top prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft. Swinney gained even more national attention for Watson when he said that passing on him in the draft would be like passing on NBA All-Time great Michael Jordan. Swinney admits he called up Watson to apologize for all the media attention his comments generated. However, he knew teams would understand once they saw Watson work in person.
"What Deshaun is, is a person that makes everybody else around him better," Swinney said. "All of a sudden, you think you can make any play, you can beat anybody, the defense is better, everybody is playing harder, the coaches are smarter. He is going to impact the community and he's got this poise. And the bigger the moment, the calmer he is and the easier it is for him. He just is unique and that's what, as a coach, I did the very best I could to articulate to people because I didn't know how else to say that and I witnessed it for three years."
Watch the full interview on Texans 360, airing Saturday at 11 p.m. on ABC-13.
Check out the best photos of QB Deshaun Watson during his time at Clemson.