Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson has been breaking the hearts of SEC fans all week, and now it’s Florida’s turn to get in on the misery.
Watson told the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi this week that he grew up rooting for Tim Tebow and the Gators. The Gainesville, Ga., native said he dreamed of playing at Florida.
“Growing up, Florida was my dream school,” Watson said Monday after his spectacular performance in a national championship victory over Alabama. “I was a huge fan. I loved Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, all those guys, and I just wanted to go there.”
In 2009, Watson was in eighth grade as Florida was coming to the end of its dominant run with Tebow and Co. He wanted to be the next legendary quarterback for the Gators.
And he especially wanted to play for Florida’s then-head coach, Urban Meyer.
“I grew up an Urban Meyer fan, I loved the way he coached, loved the way he did things,” Watson said. “So growing up, Florida was the school I was going to.”
But in 2010, it all fell apart. The Gators went 8-5 without Tebow, and Meyer resigned for health reasons. In 2012, while Florida was in the midst of a rebuild, Watson committed to Clemson as a high school sophomore. According to 247Sports, the Gators never offered him a scholarship, even though he took multiple unofficial visits to campus.
Watson has since led Clemson to two national championship games and won one of them. He even beat Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes along the way. The Gators, meanwhile, have had two coaches and five different starting quarterbacks in that time.
Now Watson is off to the NFL. He won’t be torturing fans with his play on the field anymore, but the Florida faithful will still agonize over that question: “What if?”