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Freshman Deshaun Watson is Clemson's new starting QB

In a decision that likely surprised no one, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney announced that true freshman Deshaun Watson will start at quarterback this week for the Tigers.

Watson (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) replaces fifth-year senior Cole Stoudt (6-4, 225) as the starter. His first start will come this Saturday against North Carolina.

"We know we have something special in that young man," Swinney said of Watson during his weekly Sunday-night teleconference. Swinney also said of the decision: "It's not as much what Cole did as it is what Deshaun did."

Watson saw the most extensive action of his young career Saturday night at Florida State and was impressive, going 19-of-28 for 266 yards; he also rushed for 30 yards and a TD after coming in on Clemson's fourth possession of the game.

Watson was considered the nation's top high school dual-threat quarterback in the 2014 recruiting class and a consensus top-50 player overall. He enrolled in January and went through spring practice, but a broken collarbone hurt his progress and he missed the spring game.

Watson is more athletic than Stoudt, the son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt, and seems a better fit for coordinator Chad Morris' version of the spread. Watson offers a running threat that Stoudt doesn't really possess, and Watson's upside is far higher than Stoudt's, too.

Watson wears No. 4; the number is retired at Clemson in honor of former Tigers quarterback Steve Fuller, who later played in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears. Fuller allowed the number to come out of retirement for Watson. Fuller was the Chiefs' first-round pick in the 1979 draft.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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