Deshaun Watson wasn’t on the field taking snaps for Clemson when it opened spring practice on Monday, but he was jogging, which is much more than many expected him to be doing at this time of year.
Watson had surgery in December to repair a torn ACL and is now a month ahead of schedule in his rehab. He has confidence he will be able to return when the Tigers open the 2015 season against Wofford on Sept. 5.
“I think I will be,” Watson told orangeandwhite.com. “It all depends on how my knee is holding up and what the coaches want me to do.”
In early December, after the Tigers failed to make a New Year’s Six bowl, coach Dabo Swinney announced Watson was going to have surgery and miss the Tigers’ Russell Athletic Bowl against Oklahoma. The hope was to get a jump on rehab and have Watson back for summer drills.
So far, so good.
Watson also tossed the ball around on Monday, but he probably won’t do more than that as he eases himself back into football condition. Watson said he’s also using this spring to become a better leader and to get better at the mental aspects of being quarterback.
Last season, Watson became one of the biggest surprises in the ACC when he supplanted starter Cole Stoudt and threw for 1,466 yards and 14 touchdowns while completing 67.9 percent of his passes. He also rushed for five scores. But Watson’s season was wrought with injuries.
He missed three games with a broken finger early in the season, tore his LCL against Georgia Tech on Nov. 15 and then partially tore his ACL during practice the following week. He missed the game against Georgia Southern, but returned to help the Tigers defeat South Carolina before he was shutdown for the year.
While Watson continues his rehab, junior Nick Schuessler, early enrollee freshmen Kelly Bryant and Tucker Israel are competing for the backup role. Watson said it’s hard standing on the sidelines watching, but he’s encouraging his fellow competitors.
“It’s my competitive nature to get out there and be out there with my friends and teammates, but I know the process,” Watson told orangeandwhite.com. “I just have to wait my turn until I get healthy.”
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