Before Auburn's "Big Cat Weekend" even got started, news leaked out on Friday afternoon via social media that one of the top quarterbacks in the country had decided to visit the Auburn University campus for an unofficial visit.
So yeah, Big Cat Weekend just got real. Just spotted 5-star #1 dual threat QB Deshaun Watson downtown with Kodi Burns and Lashlee. #auburn5/24/2013, 9:45:25 PM
Deshaun Watson of Gainesville High School in Georgia is a 4-star QB that has been committed to Clemson since February of 2012. He is one of the top QBs to come out of the state of Georgia since former Auburn QB Cam Newton.
For the most part, he has been considered a lock to the Tigers of the Palmetto State since that time. Many believed that his recruitment was virtually over. In April, Watson said that he was done with visits (via Michael Carvell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution):
I’m 100 percent solid with Clemson. I’m not going to visit anybody else. I’m just going to focus on Clemson and my high school season. I’m not interested in going to visit anywhere.
News of him visiting the Plains was very intriguing to the recruiting world. According to Justin Hokanson of auburnsports.com, Watson covertly visited Auburn's campus on Thursday and Friday. By most accounts, he had an outstanding visit. This begs the question of whether or not Auburn can make Watson's recruitment more interesting than most would expect.
There are some important factors to consider here.
Clemson and Tigers' head coach Dabo Swinney have reportedly attempted to restrict Watson's visits (according to Hokanson in the link above).
Clemson has promised Watson that they are not pursuing any other QBs for the 2014 class, according to Mitch Sherman of ESPN.com.Because of that and Watson's intentions to enroll at his school of choice in January, it is understandable why Clemson would want Watson to not take any visits.
Still, the recruiting process is a great experience for top prospects like Watson and if he feels the restriction of not being able to enjoy it, it may force him to reconsider his commitment.
Another important factor to consider is Watson's relationship with Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
Morris is a disciple of Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and his offense has experienced an equal amount of success at the collegiate level. After the 2012 season, Morris emerged as a front-runner for the vacant Texas Tech head coaching position along with Kliff Klingsbury.
Klingsbury won the job, but if Clemson lives up to it's preseason Top 15 ranking, Morris' name will once again be tossed around for vacant openings across college football, beginning just before Watson is set to enroll in January.
Lastly, whether it is perceived or real, there is a lure about playing in the nation's top football conference.
Clemson has many characteristics of a SEC school, but plays in the ACC. Robert Nkemdiche—the class of 2013's number one recruit—could not pass up an opportunity to play in the SEC (and with his brother). He was a one-time Clemson commitment, only to spurn the Tigers and sign with the Ole Miss Rebels.
Via Sherman's article on ESPN.com, Gainesville head coach Bruce Miller confirms his belief that Watson will stay strong in his commitment to Clemson. "I don't see him coming off it," Miller said. "I personally don't. He's stayed so strong for two years. I just don't see it happening."
The dramatics of recruiting are well-known in the Southeastern United States. As much as Watson may not want his recruitment to have drama, his talent may force his recruitment to turn out to be one of this year's most stirring stories.
One thing is for sure. The Auburn Tigers are a main character.