Clemson QB Deshaun Watson says dual-threat label stems from race

Watson bothered with dual-threat QB label (1:53)

Scott Van Pelt weighs in on Clemson QB DeShaun Watson's reaction to being labeled a dual-threat quarterback. (1:53)

Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson said he has long been stereotyped as a run-first quarterback because he's black and is an effective runner.

In an interview posted on Bleacher Report, Watson said the label dual-threat quarterback is a "code word."

"People think, 'Oh, he's a black quarterback, he must be dual-threat.' People throw around that word all the time. It's lazy," Watson told Bleacher Report. "The one thing I learned early on as a football player is people have their opinions, and I can't change them. But I can show them what they're missing.

"People have assumed that I have to run the ball before I can throw it most all of my career, all the way back before high school. It's a stereotype put on me for a long time because I'm African-American and I'm a dual-threat quarterback. I don't know why that stereotype is still around. It's about talent and the ability to throw the ball, not the color of your skin or your ability to also be a dangerous runner."

Watson told Bleacher Report it annoyed him when he was younger.

In his two seasons at Clemson, Watson has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks nationally as both a passer and runner. He's 18-2 as the Tigers' starter, and in 2015, his first full season, he became the first FBS quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000. He was the Tigers' first Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing third, and led Clemson to an ACC title and appearance in the national championship game.

Against Alabama, Watson completed 30 of 47 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns. He added 73 yards rushing. Clemson's 550 total yards were the most Alabama allowed all season in a single game. The Crimson Tide finished 2015 ranked No. 1 in adjusted defensive QBR.

"Then everyone said, 'Well, let's see how he does against the Alabama defense' -- the defense everyone thought was the best," Watson told Bleacher Report. "I think my teammates and I proved we can throw the ball."

Watson was the No. 1 quarterback in the 2014 recruiting class after breaking several state high school records in Georgia and leading Gainesville to a state championship. He held offers from Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, Ohio State and USC, among many others.

Early projections have Watson as the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL draft, if he elects to forgo his senior season. As a sophomore, he threw for 4,104 yards and 35 touchdowns and rushed for 1,105 yards and 12 scores.

Injury concerns followed Watson into the 2015 season after he suffered a torn ACL late in 2014 -- his third significant injury that year -- but he remained healthy throughout all of last season. He told Bleacher Report he doesn't think his injury history will scare teams.

"Not at all," he told Bleacher Report. "I think I proved last year that I am durable and can take the punishment. I've put on about 16 pounds of muscle this offseason, and I'm more prepared than I have ever been to handle the hits."

He told Bleacher Report a national championship is his main priority after losing 45-40 to Alabama in January. It was the SEC's eight national title in the past 10 seasons.

Watson said he does not see a disparity in talent between the SEC and ACC. Florida State won the 2013 national championship and made the playoffs in 2014, and Clemson nearly went undefeated a season ago.

"We had the No. 1 defense in the nation last year. I practiced against the No. 1 defense every week. When we played Alabama, there was no difference to me," Watson told Bleacher Report. "I'm not saying that Alabama doesn't have talent -- they do. They've got some studs over there. But I truly believe there's no difference between the two leagues. It's not overwhelming or shocking to play against the SEC, like most fans think."