Weeks after Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said this season would be Deshaun Watson's last, the Tigers junior quarterback finally acknowledged his intent to enter the 2017 NFL Draft on Monday night.
"It was a tough decision. Clemson was a special place, and I've enjoyed every single moment," Watson said. "Three years kind of flew by, but I think it's my time to go, and I ended it with a bang. Coach Swinney knew my time was up. I just wanted to sign my name and end it with an exclamation point, and I think I did that. Moments like this, I'll never forget. Clemson was the best three years of my life."
Even after Swinney announced Watson's future plans, along with three other Tigers applying for the draft as juniors -- Mike Williams, Artavis Scott and Wayne Gallman -- Watson maintained it wasn't a decision he had fully settled on.
As a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, Watson (6-feet-3, 215 pounds) has been an elite college player. His value as an NFL draft prospect is less certain, however. His athleticism, production, leadership and big-play ability all make him an intriguing study for NFL scouts. However, some have reservations about his accuracy and anticipation. One factor working in Watson's favor where his draft stock is concerned is the thin pool of prospects at his position that is expected for the 2017 draft class.
Watson completed 388 of 579 passes (67 percent) for 4,593 yards, 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions this season.
His two national championship performances against Alabama's defense were remarkable: 66 of 103 for 825 yards, seven touchdown passes and only one interception. He also rushed for 116 yards in those two games.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.