Watson, Lawrence Named 2 of College Football’s Best

It’s no secret Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence rank as the top two quarterbacks in Clemson history.

Combined they led the Tigers to two national championships, four appearances in the title game, five College Football Playoff appearances and five ACC Championships. So, it is no surprise ESPN’s Bill Connelly ranks both Clemson signal callers as two of the best 11 quarterbacks in the 2000s.

In an article released on ESPN Plus Monday, the ESPN writer ranked college football’s top 75 quarterbacks in the 2000s. Connelly ranks Watson as the No. 6 quarterback on his list and Lawrence at No. 11.

From 2018-’20, Lawrence led Clemson to a 34-2 record, while throwing for 10,098 yards. He completed 67 percent of his passes, 90 of which went for touchdowns.

Lawrence also holds the Clemson record for passing average in a season (315.3 in 2020). He also ran for 18 touchdowns in his career.

“It was going to be almost impossible for Lawrence to meet the expectations set for him as an all-world recruit at Clemson. He surpassed them,” Connelly writes. “The Tigers lost only twice in three years with him behind center, winning the 2018 national title and reaching two more CFPs. And he became one of the faces of a rising player advocacy movement as a junior as well.”

Watson posted a 32-3 record as Clemson’s starter from 2014-’16, though he spent most of his freshman year injured. The Gainesville, Ga., native holds the Clemson record for touchdown passes in a game (6 vs. UNC in 2014) and the record for most passing yards and total yards in a game (588 vs. Pitt in 2016.)

Watson also holds Clemson records for passing yards in a season (4,593 in 2016), yards per game for a career (267.4), total yards per game in a season (347.9) and career (318.3).

He finished his Clemson career with 10,168 passing yards. Watson completed 67 percent of his passes in his three-year career, threw 90 touchdowns and rushed for 26 more. He also ran for 1,934 yards and 26 touchdowns.

“Remember when ‘Clemsoning’ meant ‘failing spectacularly on the big stage?’ No,” Connelly writes. “That’s because Watson came to town and flipped Dabo Swinney’s program from good to elite. He averaged 4,351 passing yards and 857 rushing yards per year from 2015-’16, first leading the Tigers to the CFP title game, then winning it the next year. ‘Clemsoning’ now simply means ‘winning big.’”

Watson now plays and starts for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, while Lawrence is the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars,

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