Morris was the first college coach to offer each quarterback a scholarship.
Manziel picked his up when Morris was the offensive coordinator at Tulsa. And before Morris had even coached a game at Clemson, he offered Watson a spot on the Tigers’ roster in 2014.
That was back in June of 2011, just moments after Watson completed a strong one-day showing at the Dabo Swinney Football Camp.
Others began to catch on after Clemson made the first move. UCF, N.C. State and Vanderbilt were among the next wave. The heavy hitters were next: Ohio State, LSU, Florida State and Oregon, several of which were after he had already committed to Clemson on Signing Day in 2012.
In less than a month, Watson will make good on that commitment.
“It’s been a collective effort by everybody involved,” Morris said. “Obviously, he’s a young man that has been true to his word. We knew we were going to have to battle some waves along the way.
“I remember sitting there, as a freshman and sophomore [and] watching him play basketball and I was the only coach in the stands. Just thinking, ‘I hope this is going to be worth it.’”
Almost 2.5 years after Morris watched Watson throw during the Dabo Swinney Football Camp, the four-star prospect has won a Georgia AAAAA state championship and set a whole slew of state passing records. Now, it’s easy to see why Morris was so high on Watson when he was just a wiry 15-year-old.
“Obviously, I think the record speaks for itself,” Morris said. “I think what he’s done in Georgia the records that he’s broken have been pretty remarkable, in just three years, essentially.”
“Very talented, very athletic, just, he’s a play-maker. There’s no question about that. We’re excited about him. Obviously, I’ve been recruiting him since he was a freshman. It’s been a long haul. Finally glad we’re going to have him here. We’ll be ready to watch him perform in the spring.”
Watson will be competing with senior Cole Stoudt and redshirt sophomore Chad Kelly for the job that will be vacated by Tajh Boyd after Jan. 3.
“It’s going to be very challenging for all of them this spring. It’s going to be a great quarterback race,” Morris said.
The early enrollment will help ensure Watson an opportunity to compete for the job when the battle moves on to the summer and into preseason camp.
“I think anybody that comes in, in January, not necessarily just Deshaun, anybody that comes in, in January, is ahead of the game, because you get to focus on yourself, learning the offense,” Morris said. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead. It will be a great quarterback race this spring, very competitive. It’s going to be interesting to watch these guys.”