Deshaun Watson, 4-star quarterback and Clemson commitment, did in fact visit Auburn for Big Cat Weekend. But even in the drama-filled world of college football recruiting, this shouldn't be a huge deal.
The quarterback out of Gainesville, Ga., is still committed to the Tigers, and eventually this "saga" will be nothing more than a blip on the radar.
According to Kipp Adams of ESPN.com, Watson had initially denied reports that he was at Big Cat Weekend. But Adams' report cites Bruce Miller, Watson's high school coach, who confirms that the Clemson commit did visit The Plains for Auburn' big recruiting weekend:
Watson was denying the reports of his presence in Auburn, but in fact he had made a trip to the SEC campus Thursday afternoon with another assistant, which Miller says was done without his knowledge. According to Miller, one of his assistant coaches was attending a graduation in Prattville, Ala., and Watson mentioned to him that Auburn had been in contact and he had interest in visiting, so the coach dropped him off. Miller says Watson acknowledged the visit to him at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“Deshaun told me he visited Auburn and that he did not know what he was thinking,” Miller said. “Deshaun felt sorry about it and said he got talked into it at a weak moment because he had never seen it. He said he realized after he got there that he should not have made the visit. He said, “I then started trying to figure out how I could cover it up.”
Remember, this is the wild world of college football recruiting, and like it or not, these type of situations and "secret visits" do happen. Watson's not the first elite commit to take a visit elsewhere, and he certainly won't be the last.
Clemson may be a bit sour in regard to commitments looking elsewhere after the Robert Nkemdiche experience of last recruiting cycle, but recognize that these are different situations.
If it weren't for Nkemdiche's family ties, there's a good chance he wouldn't have ended up at Ole Miss. That was a unique situation that completely played out in Ole Miss' favor. There's a good chance that Clemson won't fall victim to another marquee recruiting loss like that again, especially with Watson.
In fact, all is right between Clemson and Watson now, according to his coach, via Adams' report:
Deshaun says he did not see anything that makes me question anything and he is not changing his commitment. He talked to Dabo Swinney and Chad Morris today and everything is fine now. They told him No. 1 is that Deshaun’s word is his word and that he will need to earn back a little bit of their trust. When you mess up one time you have to circle back and do right again, which Deshaun will have no problem with.
That broken trust between Swinney, Morris and Watson will eventually heal, so don't expect a rift to develop and the recruiting relationship to fall apart. Swinney and his staff have to realize that Watson is potentially the star quarterback of Clemson's future, so doing everything they can to re-establish that communication and connection will be vital.
On Watson's side, he's been clear about being 100 percent committed to Clemson, and it would appear as if that commitment still remains more than solid, despite the visit to Auburn.
He said he wouldn't visit, but he did. These sort of things happen in recruiting, and the reports make it seem as if he feels contrite about the decision to visit Auburn.
There's nothing to see here folks, let's move on.
Note: Star rankings courtesy of the 247Sports Composite rankings.