Blake Sims and Deshaun Watson put themselves on the front page with record breaking performances in recent victories by their teams, but the similarities don’t end there. Both were expected to be backups before the season began, and have managed to beat the odds to become firmly planted in starting roles.
You have to be impressed with Watson, the Clemson true freshman was called on to relieve Senior Cole Stoudt against Florida State and responded by completing 19-28 passes for 266 yards, while running for a score in a heartbreaking overtime loss.
Watson graduated from high school early and enrolled at Clemson in January.He took a crash course on the Clemson offense and last week it paid off as he was given the keys to the car as starter against North Carolina. The Tigers beat the Tar Heels as Watson threw for 435 yards and a school record 6 touchdowns.
It’s safe to say that for Clemson, the future is now. The Tigers will face a tough North Carolina State team this weekend.
For Blake Sims the story was quite different. As a backup he watched A.J. McCarron lead Alabama to back to back National Championships in 2011 and 2012. With McCarron’s departure it looked like Sims would finally get his shot in his senior year at Tuscaloosa. There was the matter of Florida State transfer Jacob Coker, who many felt would take over McCarron’s old job.Coach Nick Saban would say very little about the battle for the starting job during preseason camp. When the curtain went up on the 2014 season, there was Blake Sims , his patience and persistence had been rewarded. So far Sims has not faltered, further securing the spot two weeks ago against Florida. Sims threw for 445 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s win over the Gators. Sims joins Alabama legend Scott Hunter as the only quarterbacks to throw for over 400 yards in a game. Next up a trip to Oxford,Mississippi and a date with an Ole Miss team that has one of the nations top defensive units. It will the toughest test thus far for Sims as Bama’s starter.
While Blake Sims and Deshaun Watson paths to the role of field leader or their teams was different, there is a common thread, Gainesville High School. Residents of the North Georgia town had a front row seat to witness the formative years of both Sims and Watson and the success that they enjoy today really doesn’t surprise them. Sims threw for 28 touchdowns and rushed for 13 more in the 2009 season that saw the Red Elephants finish as the state runner up. Watson smashed the state record for career total offensive yards, and won the state championship that had eluded Sims in his senior year.
When asked about Watson’s amazing night against the Tar Heels, Gainesville Head Coach Bruce Miller said, ” Unbelieveable!! What a way to start a college career.!! Great Kid!! I Love it.”
Miller is equally as proud of Sims who waited so long for his chance to hold the Alabama starting job.Both are a great source of pride for the city of Gainesville , and serve as an inspiration to the students who currently attend the school “I am( proud)”, says Miller.” Both of them tremendous athletes. God has really Blessed me.”