Not so fast, my friend

CLEMSON - Josh Watson didn't need to be convinced to stick around for his final season of eligibility. He'd already decided this would be it.

Watson was ready to make a run at an NFL roster in 2014.

The Citadel game was going to be his last in Death Valley, the South Carolina game would be his final battle against the Gamecocks and the bowl game would be his last in a Clemson uniform.

During the week leading up to The Citadel game, Watson sat down with several members of the coaching and support staff. It was during that time when Watson decided that he should stick around for his senior year.

"I had to meet with all the coaches. They weren't going to let me go that easily, probably met with about seven of them in a week's span," Watson said. "Who really changed my mind was Jeff Davis. The guy just really cares about us on a personal level. Whether I was going to stay or leave, he was going to stay by my side and support me."

Mom was on the same page.

"She's really proud of me either way…as a mother, she knows best," Watson said. "She kind of kicked my butt in the right direction as well."

So, that Thursday before The Citadel, Watson decided that he would return to Clemson in 2014. He didn't go public with the decision until after the game.

"It was funny," Watson said. "On the field, right before the game, coach [Brent Venables] was telling me that it was an honor that he got to coach me and he was going to miss me. I was like, ‘Coach, I'm staying.'

"He looked at me and said some hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He said he thought he was going to cry. That felt good to hear that. It'll be appreciated that I'm coming back and will help the team next year, help a lot of the young guys as I have before."

Watson added, "I do appreciate all the fans and their support. It's been unbelievable since they found out about my departure, all the messages that I received on Facebook. It was just unreal.

"I told a few of them on the field Saturday [after the game] before I announced that I was coming back, because I felt bad. Going down Tiger Walk, all of them were wishing me luck and thanking me."

Born Feb. 5, 1990, Watson is the oldest player on this year's team. Out of Dickinson High School in Wilmington, Del., Watson spent a post-grad season at Hargrave Military Academy to raise his recruiting profile. He arrived to Clemson in January of 2010 and took a redshirt during his first season at Clemson.

Watson, who will have minor back surgery in January, had worn himself then over the last four years in Tigertown.

"Not a lot of people understand how much of a grind it is to be here," he said. "It's a 365 day a year job. If you don't take your breaks right, you're going to get burnt out. It's going to happen fast."

During his first two seasons on the field, Watson played 482 snaps over 18 games, nine of which he started. He had 54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. This season, Watson has 15 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

"I've got a few projects I'm working on right now -- Kevin Dodd and Scott Pagano. I'm kind of taking them under my wings and helping them," Watson said.

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