As Deshaun Watson helped Clemson storm from behind and defeat a heavily-favored Alabama Crimson Tide squad led by Nick Saban, his historic performance conjured memories of past great National Championship games.
Watson completed 36 of 56 passes for 420 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, including the game-winner to Hunter Renfrow with 1 second left in the game, lifting Clemson to the improbable 35-31 stunner. He also ran for 43 yards against what had been billed as one of the greatest defenses in college football history.
While Nick Saban was left to wander the sideline in disbelief, his face had the same look that former USC Coach Pete Carroll sported in January of 2006 when Vince Young led Texas to a 41-38 win over the mighty Trojans in the national championship game at the Rose Bowl.
Young’s all-around numbers were probably a bit more impressive than Watson’s, but the magnitude of the performance, the execution of leadership and the impact of the QB was equal in stature.
Young rambled for 200 yards and three touchdowns and completed 30 of 40 passes for 267 yards. Watson did his thing against a much more heralded defense.
It’s only right that In the postgame interview Watson referenced Young and that unforgettable moment that he captured in college history.
“...The thing that was running through my mind was Vince Young,” Watson said.
“I was just like, ‘man, we have to be great, and I want to be legendary. Vince Young was one of my greatest players that I love to watch, and we pulled it off.”
The college QB journey from Young to Watson encompasses another decade of black college QB excellence. Their is a brotherhood and a unique lineage concerning African-American QBs. the ones who win National Championships are forever remembered and held as royalty in the eyes of college football fans.
Watson didn't win the Heisman like Young did, but his head coach Dabo Swinney will tell you that Watson is "the best player in the country." Swinney reiterated that on Monday night in an emotional post game interview.
Young didn’t go on to have a pro career (or an off field career) that matched the invincibility and magnificence of his college swag, but his lasting impact and value to the game of football was certified on Monday night when Watson mentioned Young his main inspiration as a QB.
Media and narrative-shaping journalists don’t want to give Young his props because his story didn’t end up how the movie scripts would have liked, but it is obvious that regardless of how many years pass and how many black QBs have success, Young’s college career leaves a lasting legacy that continues to inspire a generation of ballers a decade later. He was one of the pioneers and mythical winners who helped open the floodgates for the proliferation of dual-QB threats we enjoy in today’s college and pro game and he taught these cats how to slay Goliath.
Shouts to Vince Young.