Clemson University quarterback Deshaun Watson is the winner of the 2016 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation, Inc.
The native of Gainesville, Georgia who is a junior in eligibility, but will receive his undergraduate degree on December 15, led Clemson to the ACC Championship last Saturday in a 42-35 victory over Virginia Tech. It was the second consecutive year Clemson has won the ACC title, the first time the program has done that in 28 years. He is the first Clemson quarterback to lead the Tigers to back-to-back conference crowns since Rodney Williams led Clemson to three straight league crowns from 1986-88.
Watson was 23-34 for 288 yards and three touchdowns passing and added a team best 85 yards rushing on 17 carries and scored twice against Virginia Tech. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the ACC Championship game for the second consecutive year. For the season, Watson has completed 329 of 487 passes for 3914 yards and 37 touchdowns. He ranks fourth in the nation in completions, fifth in touchdown passes and eighth in completion percentage and eighth in total offense. His 37 touchdown passes are a Clemson season record.
Watson has finished strong, connecting on 138 of 186 passes for 1586 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last five games. That is a 74 percent completion percentage. He has had 20 touchdowns rushing and passing over the five games and averaged 356.8 total offense yards per game.
Candidates for the Golden Arm Award – which has been presented at the end of each college football season since 1987 – must be college seniors or fourth-year juniors on schedule to graduate with their class. In addition to the accomplishments on the field, candidates are judged on their character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, and leadership qualities.
Past Golden Arm Award winners include: Peyton Manning (Tennessee, 1997); Carson Palmer (USC, 2002); Eli Manning (Ole Miss, 2003); Matt Ryan (Boston College, 2007); Colt McCoy (Texas, 2009); Andrew Luck (Stanford, 2011), Marcus Mariota (Oregon, 2014) and Connor Cook (Michigan State, 2015).
Watson will receive the 2016 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award at a ceremony to be held this Friday, December 9, 6-9 p.m., at the Embassy Suites Baltimore Inner Harbor & The Grand in downtown Baltimore.
Proceeds from the Golden Arm Award help to support the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation. The Foundation provides financial assistance to underprivileged and deserving young scholar-athletes throughout Maryland and Kentucky.
Sponsors of the Golden Arm Award include: Under Armour, The Babe Ruth Museum, Baltimore Sun Media Group, Century Engineering, Coach for America, Comcast, Dunbar Armored and Dunbar Security Solutions, The Embassy Suites Baltimore Inner Harbor & The Grand, Haddock Investments, HMS Insurance Associates, Inc., Maryland Department of Commerce, Metropolis Funding, PSAV, Panini, TRAY, SILKS, The Scott Garceau Show, MedStar Sports Medicine, Wilson Sporting Goods, and ZBest Executive & Global Transportation Services.