Dabo Swinney told reporters after practice on Wednesday that Josh Watson will begin move on after this season. The dialogue began in May during their post-spring exit interview.
"He's graduating in a couple of weeks here, so he's really more focused on what's next for him," Swinney said. "I really wish he would come back. I certainly don't want him to leave. Anytime you've got a chance to be a great player around here, you'd like for them to be here."
Watson, who signed with Clemson in 2010, was a full qualifier out of Dickinson High School in Wilmington, Del. But he only had Division II offers after finishing high school in 2009, so he went the prep school route, hoping to land Division I offers.
Clemson, B.C., UConn, Duke, LSU, Michigan State, UNC, Syracuse, Virginia and West Virginia offered before his season at Hargrave Military Academy was over.
In his first two seasons at Clemson, Watson had 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, 14 quarterback pressures in 18 games, nine of which he started. This season, Watson has 34 tackles and a sack in 293 snaps. He's appeared in all 10 games and started three of them.
"He's just ready, I think, from a maturity standpoint, to take it to the next level," Swinney said. "I think he can play on the next level. I really do.
"He's probably going to have to have some type of back surgery when the season is over. It's a nagging injury that he's dealing with. I think he wants to focus on getting healthy and seeing what's next for him."
Watson will graduate with a degree in Sociology.
"He's been a tremendous asset for us, a great ambassador for us. Heck, he's come in here and graduated with a whole year left and got his degree," Swinney said. "Those are decisions that everybody has to make along the way."
Though he was given the opportunity to do so, Watson will not make a final walk down the hill as a senior.
"He did not want to be honored as a senior. I certainly would have, because, again, he's graduating," Swinney said. "That wasn't something he wanted to do, but he'll be honored at our banquet as a senior."
Watson moving on
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