The brotherly bond between Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton | Daily Brew

"Big brother."

That's how Deshaun Watson describes his relationship with Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.

The two met when Watson was still winning games for Gainesville High School. Newton selected Watson for the annual 7-on-7 high school football tournament he sponsored.

"I think it was his first ever annual seven-on-seven in Atlanta, Georgia," Watson said. "We went to the championship game. I can't remember if we ended up winning or not. I got selected to his all-star team. We flew out to IMG I think it was, and did a tournament. At that time, that's when we became close."

Newton, impressed with the young high school quarterback, tried to convince Watson to attend his alma mater, Auburn. But the teen phenom was already committed to Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers.

"Deshaun was on the foundation team and we knew then, he was a star, how easy the ball came off his hands," Newton said Thursday via Patriots.com. "He has so much arm talent at such a young age."

With Newton playing in Charlotte and Watson just a few hours away in Clemson, the quarterbacks kept in touch. Watson happily soaked up all the advice, given to him by the 2011 No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick.

"A lot of times on the phone, a lot of situations where we just kind of chopped it up all night and he just showed me a lot of different life experiences and how to be a professional quarterback at this level," Watson said. "He always told me, really just this one thing, if you continue to do what you do, stay in school, stay locked in and stay focused on your craft, I'm going to be in the position that he was in, especially at that time."

Newton, now in his 10th NFL season and first with New England, leads the AFC with nine rushing touchdowns. On Sunday, he will face his protégé Watson for the first time in his career. Last year when the Panthers came to Houston in Week 4, Newton was sidelined with an injury and Kyle Allen was the starting quarterback.

Through nine games this season, Watson ranks second in the NFL in passing yards per attempt (8.4) and owns the second-most passing yards (2,539). He also became the first quarterback in Texans history to complete at least 60 percent of his passes in each of the first seven games of a season.

"At the end of the day, he's a person that I just sit back and admire from afar, knowing that I know where he came from," Newton said. "I know his circle pretty close and he's just a person that has a bright future in front of him and I look forward to Sunday's matchup."

Playing against his mentor for the first time in his career will be a special experience for Watson too.

"Just always been there for me since I was in high school, me and him have a great relationship," Watson said. "We always support each other. He's a guy that I based my game, especially at a young age, around what he did. He was definitely a reason why I watched Auburn in college and things like that. He's just always been my favorite quarterback. It's a cool opportunity for us to be able to go against each other, too."

Watson and Newton will face off when the Texans host the Patriots in Sunday's Salute to Service game. Kickoff is set for Noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.

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