Notre Dame CB doesn’t see Clemson’s DeShaun Watson as top 5 QB



How high would you rank Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson in your national college football rankings? Is he top five? Or not even close? Is he just a game-manager, or something much more meaningful and electric?

Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell wouldn’t put Watson in the top five nationally. Would you agree Russell’s assessment, or do you think the Fighting Irish corner is underrating him?

Clemson hosts South Carolina in The Palmetto Bowl second half action

FOX News Channel has a slogan: “We Report. You Decide.”

In their case, the slogan is obviously a load of B.S. as FNC isn’t a news source at all. It’s a Republican party mouthpiece. However, for our intents and purposes, read what KeiVarae Russell had to say about Deshaun Watson following Notre Dame’s complete and utter annihilation of lowly UMass.

When you’re done with that, listen to the audio and then decide for yourself if Russell is spot on here; or not.


“I think Deshaun Watson manages the game well. I’ve played against quarterbacks better than him, I’ve played against quarterbacks that weren’t as good as him…He’s not overly superior, I don’t think he’s like a top five quarterback in the country, I think he manages the game extremely well, and does what the offense asks of him. He doesn’t do too much, but he does enough for them. 

“I don’t think he’s a top five quarterback, but he’s a good quarterback though.” 

Is that bulletin board material for Watson and Clemson? That depends on how you define the term “bulletin board material.” Russell is most certainly showing respect to Watson, just not fawning over him. In 2011, unranked Ohio State came to #15 Illinois (yes, four years ago was indeed bizarro world) and Illini wide receiver A.J. Jenkins (a future early round NFL Draft pick) was among the national leaders in receiving yards at the time.

OSU cornerback Bradley Roby (now with the Denver Broncos) described Jenkins as “not that special.” Illinois used it as bulletin board material but it didn’t matter anyway as the then 6-0 Illini suffered their first loss that season to the Buckeyes. Jenkins did have 80+ yards receiving in that game, but the Illini have gone 16-31 since that day.

So Watson and Clemson can do with this quote whatever they see fit, but caveat emptor.


In a world dominated by “next man in,” “we just gotta make plays,” “bring a hard-working, blue-collar approach,” “all about staying focused,” and other mind-numbing gibberish, Russell actually speaks his mind. The loquacious corner always has something substantial and compelling to say. It’s quite refreshing given that 99% of all athletes only speak to the media in pointless tautologies and meaningless corporatespeak.

Currently, Deshaun Watson is 19th in the country in passer rating at 165.3, fourth in completion percentage at 74.4. According to, ESPN Analyst Brock Huard rated Watson the third best overall quarterback in the country on September 22nd. This was after Clemson had played their third game, and Notre Dame will be their fourth as Clemson had a bye this past week.

Aside from the two statistics we’ve already cited, it’s unfair to cite where Deshaun Watson ranks statistically as he’s only played three games while everyone else has played four.


Russell thinks that this generalization is a bit unfair. In his mind, the ND secondary hasn’t been beaten much straight up, only in trickeration and razzle dazzle plays.

“If you look at our secondary, we’re only really getting beat on these trick gadget stuff,” Russell said.

“Minus a couple (plays), there’s only been these deep scores on gadget plays. They’re not really beating us one-on-one. So we’ll see next week.”

Yes, we will see on Saturday. SportsCenter is setting up shop in Clemson. ESPN College Gameday is coming to Death Valley for this one. Clemson versus Notre Dame, Deshaun Watson verus the ND secondary, there are match-ups the whole nation will be watching.


Paul M. Banks owns, operates and sometimes writes The Sports, which is partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. The website is also featured on News Now.

Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes to the Chicago Tribune RedEye. He also appears regularly on numerous talk shows all across the country. Catch him Tuesdays on KOZN 1620 The Zone.

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