Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is coming off a season to remember heading into his third year with the Tigers. He helped lead his team to the College Football Playoff Championship Game against Alabama, and in the process he finished third in the final voting for the 2015 Heisman Trophy behind Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey.
MyBookie is pretty high on his chances to turn in another very memorable performance in 2016 as the second-favorite to win this season's award for the top player in college football. Watson's current odds to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy stand at +450, and Clemson as a team has the second-best odds on the board to win a national title at +650.
Watson did everything he could to help his team win it all last year with 405 yards passing and four scoring strikes through the air against Alabama's vaunted defense in that thrilling 45-40 loss in the title game. He also added 73 yards rushing on 20 carries to show just how versatile of a player he really is. Right off the bat you would have to think there is some added value to his 2016 Heisman odds heading into this season after leaving voters with a very positive impression from that game.
All told, Watson threw for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2015 while adding another 1,105 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. He put the ball up 491 times that season and completed a very impressive 67.8 percent of his passes. Even when he was not at his best as in the College Football Playoff semifinal matchup against Oklahoma, he still was a vital part of his team's impressive 37-17 victory. He only completed 51.6 percent of his 31 attempts against the Sooners for 187 yards, but he made up for things on the ground with 145 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
When it comes to the 2016 campaign, Watson should have a pretty good chance to grab the Heisman voter's attention right out of the gate in the season opener against Auburn. A strong performance against these Tigers would most likely cement him as one of the top Heisman favorites in just about everyone's mind.
Clemson's first ACC game of the season is against Georgia Tech on the road on Sept. 22 followed by a home game against Louisville on Oct. 1. The showcase game for Watson this season will most likely be in late October when the Tigers go on the road to face the rival Florida State Seminoles. If all goes well to that point, he could have a chance to lock things up with games against Pittsburgh at home and Wake Forest on the road before welcoming South Carolina to Clemson Memorial Stadium on Nov. 26 in that traditional rivalry showdown.
All in all, this is a very manageable schedule that offers quite a few golden opportunities for Watson to highlight all of his athletic skills. His top target in 2015 was junior wide receiver Artavis Scott. These two hooked up 93 times for 901 yards and six touchdowns, and this duo is expected to be a big part of the Tigers' passing offense again this year. Also back in the fold for 2016 is senior tight end Jordan Leggett. He ended last season with 40 catches for 525 yards and eight touchdowns. At 6-foot-5, 250 lbs., he becomes a huge target, especially in the Red Zone.
Clemson should once again be the best team in the ACC this season. Even though the Tigers are not going to sneak up on anyone this time around, Watson has a great chance to surpass everything he accomplished in 2015. Henry is off to the NFL, so his biggest competition for the 2016 Heisman should come from McCaffrey as a stand-out running back with Stanford and LSU running back Leonard Fournette as the current favorite to win. It could be a neck-and-neck race right into the month of December between these three, and I really like the value in Watson's +450 odds to win.
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