Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is heading back to New York.
The Tigers star was named a Heisman Trophy finalist for the second consecutive year when the finalists were announced Monday evening on ESPN. Joining Watson in New York for the Heisman ceremony will be Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Michigan’s versatile Jabrill Peppers and Oklahoma receiver Dede Westbrook.
The Heisman Trophy will be presented Saturday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
“It’s something that I would love to do and experience again so my family can go experience it. My mom loves New York. It’s one of her favorite places to go,” Watson said last month. “I had a great time last year being around all the former Heisman winners and all the people that was a part of that whole weekend.”
Watson enters the College Football Playoff with 3,914 passing yards and 37 touchdowns. He’s completed 67.6 percent of his passes, but also has thrown 15 interceptions, which is tied for the third-most in college football.
Watson also has rushed for 529 yards and six touchdowns.
He played exceptionally well down the stretch, accounting for 988 total yards and 14 total touchdowns over the final three games. Watson threw two interceptions during that stretch, but both were on tipped passes.
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney feels there’s “no doubt” his quarterback should win the Heisman.
“This is a guy that since October or November and now in December, ain’t nobody better than this guy right here,” Swinney said. “This is championship football time. … I sure am glad that he’s been playing for the Clemson Tigers.”
Jackson was the clear Heisman favorite for most of the season, but Louisville’s struggles down the stretch allowed others to enter the conversation.
Swinney believes Clemson’s head-to-head win and ACC title should make the difference for Watson to win the award over Jackson.
“He might not have been the best player in September, but he’s been the best player in October and November and December,” Swinney said of Watson. “Lamar’s a great player too, but we went head-to-head. They lost three games and we lost one by one point. And in that game, our quarterback threw for 580 yards.”
When Clemson and Louisville played head-to-head, Jackson rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 295 yards and a score. He also threw an interception.
Watson passed for 306 yards and five touchdowns, and had 91 rushing yards in the game, while throwing three interceptions.
Jackson put up ridiculous numbers this season with 51 total touchdowns and 4,928 total yards. He has 3,390 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns to go along with 1,538 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.
Mayfield led the Sooners to the Big 12 title, passing for 3,669 yards and 38 touchdowns. He also rushed for 143 yards and six touchdowns.
Mayfield’s favorite target, Westbrook, caught 74 passes for 1,465 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Peppers, perhaps the most versatile player in college football, rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns, averaged nearly 15 yards per punt return with one touchdown, averaged 26 yards per kick return and defensively had 72 tackles with 16 tackles for loss, four sacks, one interception and a forced fumble.
Watson played in 13 games while leading Clemson to the ACC title, while the other Heisman finalists played in 12.