Three days after showing the nation why he's the most dynamic quarterback in college football, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson received the hardware to prove it.
The Tigers' sophomore has won the Manning Award, the only major award to withhold its results until after the postseason, as CFB's top quarterback. Watson piled up 478 yards of total offense against Alabama in the College Football Playoff title game on Monday night, a 45-40 loss for the Tigers.
"We are honored to present this year's Manning Award to Deshaun Watson. Deshaun led his team to a perfect regular season and then an impressive win in the Playoff Semifinal before his 478-yard performance in the national championship," said Archie Manning, per The Associated Press. "He may not have won the title but he showed the world what an outstanding talent he is and what a tremendous competitor he is."
Watson threw for 405 yards and rushed for 73 against an Alabama defense that ranked No. 3 in the nation and featured several 2016 NFL Draft prospects. He did it with virtually no help from a rushing attack (Watson himself was Clemson's leading rusher), yet managed to keep Clemson in the game with some picture-perfect throws. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks was impressed with Watson's performance, as well.
For the year, the sophomore threw for 4,104 yards with 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, and set ACC records for total offense (5,209) and total touchdowns (47). He'll return to Clemson in the fall as a strong Heisman Trophy candidate after being a finalist for the honor in 2015. Watson is the first Manning Award winner who didn't also win the Heisman since 2009. Recent Manning Award winners include Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton.