Deshaun Watson is currently the quarterback of the Houston Texans, and his career is off to a promising start. He’s coming off a playoff season and along with Patrick Mahomes, is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league.
This comes as no surprise to college football fans, who watched Watson dazzle during his collegiate career at Clemson. He faced his fair share of adversity there, however — adversity he was able to triumph over when his career was all said and done. How did he do it? With a little help from another current NFL quarterback: Cam Newton. But what advice did Newton give him and how did it help?
Deshaun Watson’s (near) championship season
Despite setting a record for most passing yards in a national title game (478), Watson’s Tigers were no match for Bama. Powered by running back Derrick Henry and tight end O.J. Howard, the Tide rolled past Clemson in a thriller, 45-40.
It was certainly a disappointment for Watson. While he had played phenomenally, it wasn’t enough. While it was no doubt a great first year as a starter, he knew he could improve. The loss caused him to reflect on some advice Newton had given him years prior.
The advice Cam Newton gave Deshaun Watson
Watson first met Newton as a junior in high school. Newton was fresh off a national championship, leading the Auburn Tigers to an undefeated season. The Carolina Panthers had made him the number one overall pick in that year’s NFL Draft.
Newton met Watson at a seven-on-seven camp in Atlanta. He then selected Watson as the quarterback for the seven-on-seven team he planned to take to a national competition in Florida. That’s where the two connected, and Newton gave Watson called in a piece for the Player’s Tribune “the best advice he’d ever received.”
“Basically, he told me to not let the highs get me too high or the lows get me too low. Have a balanced mentality. Accept both the love and the hate. Because when you’re successful, you’ll always have those who love you. But you’ll also always have haters…And the only way to shut them up is to win.”
Newton was a role model for Watson, so the advice clearly meant a lot to him, and he took it to heart. But how did it help him?
How he used Cam Newton’s advice to win a national title
As disappointed as Deshaun Watson was by his 2016 loss to Alabama, he used Newton’s wisdom to motivate him. It was a low point, but he did not allow himself to get too low.
That resulted in Watson having another great year, leading Clemson back to the College Football Playoff and national championship game. Their opponent? You guessed it: the Crimson Tide, yet again. It was the first national championship game rematch in college football history.
This time, however, the result was different. The Tigers didn’t score as many points and Watson didn’t quite throw for as many yards (420 this time out), but they nevertheless won this showdown, 35-31.
According to Watson, he focused on winning the championship — as well as graduating early before exiting for the NFL Draft — due to Newton’s words. Who knows if Watson could have achieved the same greatness he had without Newton’s input? It certainly helped him, however, allowing him to put his goals of winning the game’s ultimate prize into his sights.