Deshaun Watson may be off to the NFL, but he’s taking one more piece of collegiate hardware with him.
Thursday, the Allstate Sugar Bowl announced that Watson, one of 10 finalists, has been named as the recipient of the 2016 Manning Award. The Clemson quarterback won the Manning after the 2015 season, making him the first player to win the award in back-to-back seasons.
The other finalists for this year’s Manning Award were: J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Jake Browning (Washington), Sam Darnold (USC), Luke Falk (Washington State), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Patrick Mahomes II (Texas Tech), Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Zach Terrell (Western Michigan). Seven of those 10 finalists (Barrett, Browning, Darnold, Falk, Hurts, Jackson, Mayfield) will return in 2017 with another opportunity to claim the Manning.
The award, named in honor of the quarterbacking Mannings — Archie, Peyton and Eli — is the only one to take into account a player’s performance in the postseason. And what a postseason performance it was for Watson.
In the national championship game win over defending champ Alabama, Watson accounted for 463 yards of offense and four touchdowns against the vaunted Crimson Tide defense. It was the perfect ending for a stellar collegiate career.
“Over the years, we have seen so many tremendous performances in the postseason, and this year we saw Deshaun Watson turn in an amazing two-game playoff performance,” said Archie Manning in a statement. “When the Allstate Sugar Bowl created the Manning Award in 2004, one of the key components was to recognize achievements throughout the entire year, including bowls, and now the playoff. This year is a prime example of why we do that.”
A Heisman finalist each of the past two seasons — some would say if the Heisman followed the Manning lead and voted after the postseason he would’ve won at least one — Watson also claimed the Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas quarterbacking awards. He also won the former in 2015.