An hour before the 2015 Heisman ceremony was about to begin, Deshaun Watson was pacing in his hotel room, waiting for his suit to arrive.He had a spare hanging in the closet, a sleek, dark, understated ensemble that, in truth, better suited his demure personality, but hed found a little place in New York earlier in the week that would custom order a new suit -- just something a little cool, he said -- and theyd promised it would be delivered in time for the show.That isnt to say Watson was nervous. As a freshman in high school, the kid started Gainesville Highs season opener against the defending state champs and threw three touchdowns. On his first college drive, a game mobbed with family members in the stands against nearby Georgia, he uncorked a bullet to Charone Peake in the end zone that he still considers perhaps the prettiest pass of his career. In last years national championship game, on the biggest stage of his career against the toughest defense hed ever faced, Watson threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns and nearly single-handedly rallied Clemson to a national title bid that ultimately fell just short. No, Watson doesnt get nervous.He is a planner, though, always has been. Its part of what drives him. Watson sets a goal, maps out each step required to attain it and works like a madman until its in his grasp. He promised his high school coaches a state title, and he delivered, with Gainesvilles first in more than a century of football. He set out to win a Heisman too, and the folks back in his hometown pushed him to get here. So the suit, the one hed special ordered, it mattered. It was all part of the plan.At last, there was a knock on the door. When Watson emerged for the ceremony, he was decked out in bright red. It was a single-breasted jacket with notched lapels over a black-and-white button-down dress shirt with a gold chain wrapped around his neck. It was pure flash?-- or, to most folks in his home state of Georgia, the colors of the Bulldogs, the team 40 miles away that had failed to recruit him until it was too late.The Clemson contingent in New York was a bit surprised to see the outfit, but they went along with it. When Watson was interviewed for television a little later, the question of his color choice came up immediately.Watson grinned, then found his high school coach, Bruce Miller, and his mom nearby.This, Watson said, is where it all started.Back in Gainesville, everyone wears red, black and white. Theyre the school colors, the palate of the town, and on that stage in New York City, they were a tribute to the place Watson came from and the folks who helped him along the way. He wanted them to know he remembered.For Watson, theres no story that doesnt start at home, and wherever this season takes him -- back to New York for the Heisman or to Tampa, Florida, for the national championship game -- hes grounded by Gainesville. For each step he has taken along his path -- that state title in 2012 or the Heisman ceremony in December -- Watson has lifted Gainesville up with him.Hes our hometown hero, said Fred Payne, Watsons closest friend and former high school teammate. To see him accomplish everything hes accomplished, he gives everyone hope. Hes a small-town kid with big dreams, and its a reminder that nothing can stop you if you have a strong mindset. He reminds you to go for your dreams.When Watson led Gainesville to the state championship in 2012, grown men whod played on the team a generation before wept in the stands. It was arguably the defining moment in the citys history, but what Miller remembers is a goal-line play late in the game that had little impact on the final score. The play call was for Watson to run it in. Instead, Watson checked off at the line, handed the ball to a sophomore running back named Michael Byrd and jogged to the sideline.What happened? Miller asked him. The play was for you.Yeah, Watson said, but I wanted Mike to get a touchdown.In the aftermath, when a stage was wheeled to the 50-yard line and Gainesvilles seniors climbed up the stairs and celebrated the long-awaited championship, Watson stood on the field next to Millers wife.Go up there with them, she said.But Watson refused. He was a junior. It wasnt his time.He never wanted center stage in his hometown, but these days, its hard to avoid. Everyone wants to stop and say hello or grab a photo with him. Its not that they want to badger him -- in fact, most worry hes being asked to do too much -- but surely Watson wants to say hello too.The town takes such pride in him because anyone whos met him feels like theyre his best friend, said Leslie Frierson, the principal at Centennial Arts Academy in Gainesville and Watsons fourth-grade teacher.Sam Couvillon is a local insurance agent in Gainesville, and when he meets with clients, most conversations start with talk of Deshaun Watson. Hell flash the selfie he took with Watson, and the client will remember watching one of Watsons games or bumping into him around town. Everyone has his or her Deshaun Watson moment.There was a day during Watsons senior year at Gainesville, after hed hurt his knee and was questionable to play, when Couvillon was dropping his daughter off at school, and up ahead, he saw Watson. Couvillon pulled over, rolled down his window and shouted after the star QB: Hey, Deshaun, how ya doing? Watson hobbled toward the car, crutches under each arm, and he stopped to chat.He doesnt just pass you along and say get out of here, Couvillon said. He stops and has a conversation. And theres countless people who have those stories about him.Couvillon won a spot on city council a few years back, and now he hopes to organize a Deshaun Watson Day in Gainesville. Its been a tough job so far, because of both Watsons schedule and the potential for bigger celebrations down the road.I was talking to the mayor, Couvillon said, and wondered, if we had a parade, and then he won the national championship, what would we do then?When Watson drops by the gym at Gainesville High to work out, Miller does his best to offer shelter, but the current crop of Red Elephants wants to meet the legend. When Watson runs the hill outside the school -- the same one he ran for four years as a player -- the elementary school kids crowd around in awe, and he cuts his run short and stops to chat.At Longstreet Cafe, the local greasy spoon diner where folks line up for dinner service at quarter to five, Watson was a regular. Longstreet has two locations -- one a few blocks from the high school, the other a few blocks from the football stadium -- so the team met there routinely. As Watsons star grew, he talked up his favorite restaurant, enough that every so often, Longstreet gets customers from out of town who drop in just to eat where Watson did. When hes home, Watson still stops in to chat with the regulars and pose for photos. On the dining room wall at one location hang a half-dozen pictures of Watson. One of the photos is Watson standing under the diners marquee, which reads Hometown hero.When Watson is on TV, the town is glued to its screens. Miller joked that if you wanted to rob Gainesville blind, do it on a Saturday when Clemson is playing.Theres a lot more people excited and talking about the season, Watson said of his trips home, but its not really any different.What he means is he doesnt want to be treated any differently. Still, the owners at Longstreet have already printed T-shirts for Deshaun Watson Day, whenever that might happen.The community at 815 Harrison Square is made up of squat, two-story row homes surrounded by a chicken processing plant and a cemetery. In the middle, there are fields where, fittingly, the playground equipment is painted orange and purple.This is where Watsons journey began.Not only did his mom raise him, but the community raised him as well, said Payne, who was one of Watsons neighbors at Harrison Square. It shaped him, and hes forever grateful for it. There were obstacles he faced early on, but it made him into the great guy he is today.By the fourth grade, Watsons family had been moved to the other side of town, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity, but he has never forgotten the community that helped raise him. He has tattoos on his arms -- a championship ring with an 815 inscription on one arm, a stopwatch reading 8:15 on the other -- both mementos to his early years and the folks still living at 815 Harrison Square.Watson used to play football with the older kids between the buildings in the housing complex, dreaming of making it big. Now 8-year-old Jamauri Ivory does the same -- only he pretends to be Deshaun Watson.He talks about Deshaun all the time, Ivorys mother, Neisha Morrison, said. The kids look up to him. Its a blessing.This isnt lost on Watson.If there has been a complaint about Clemsons star quarterback the past two years, its that Watson is so restrained publicly. He isnt controversial, and he offers few memorable quotes. He regurgitates the mantras of his coaching staff, and he defers all praise to his teammates. The kid is just too darned nice.All of which made it a bit surprising when, in an interview with Bleacher Report during fall camp, Watson opened up on the issue of race.People think, Oh, hes a black quarterback. He must be a dual-threat, Watson told the website. People have assumed I have to run the ball before I throw it most of my career. ... Its a stereotype put on me for a long time because Im an African-American.The thing is, this wasnt out of character. Ask Watson about an injury or a big game, and hell give you the cliché. But here in Harrison Square, race and prejudice and the limits those stereotypes place on people matter too much for him to ignore them. His success has given him a platform, and hes going to use it -- not for himself but for the kids still living where he grew up.He gave his own opinion about how people see it, said Payne, who grew up alongside Watson in Harrison Square. He knew that people would give him a title like that because he came from where he came from. But he doesnt want you to limit his potential of what he can do.No one at Harrison Square tried to limit Watson. They witnessed the talent early and saw the drive he had to be something more.There are dozens of stories, and Morrisons neighbor, Jaqueline Hendrix, happily retold them one humid August afternoon. Morrisons son was leaning out of a car window, listening intently. Amid all the talk of Watsons success, Morrison interjected.This place, she said, can make you or break you.It made Watson, and she wants to see her son follow the same path. She doesnt want to see limits put on him because of where he grew up or the color of his skin. Thats what Watson means here. That red suit, the tattoos -- its all about them.In the back of his mind, I can see him at every snap, every press conference, everything he does -- he never forgets about God, and he never forgets about us, Hendrix said. You can see it. He may not say it, but in my heart, I know.When Watson moved into his new house in fourth grade, Frierson, his teacher at the time, bought him a basketball goal for the driveway. Shed been so taken with the kid, with his drive to succeed, and he was finally in a place where he could safely play outside his house. She wanted to be part of that.Eleven years later, Frierson keeps a photo of Watsons fourth-grade class on the wall of her office. In it, the future star is standing in the back row, tall and confident. She remembers how Watson struggled with reading that year. She told him to simply attack reading the way he did sports, and the next year, he qualified for the gifted program.Now, when a problem student is sent marching to her office, she points him or her to Watsons photo.I say, He was right where you are, dealing with the same things you did, Frierson said. He set his mind on what his goal was. He wanted to be a superstar, and hes doing it.Watson comes home when he can, but his time is precious these days. Still, he has made pregame speeches to his old football team, and he has given thanks at Sunday mass in his old church. He slides into line for the buffet at Longstreet looking for sweet tea and chicken, knowing his meal will likely be cold by the time hes done snapping pictures with fans.This is home.I never forget where I come from, Watson said. It means everything.After Watson wore his red suit for the Heisman ceremony, the city wanted to show him the same love, so the school board organized an Orange Out day for Clemsons national championship game against Alabama.When the city council met that day, everyone wore orange. On the community Facebook page for 815 Harrison Square, Hendrix helped spread the word to wear orange in celebration of Watsons success.Outside Gainesville High, theres a rock formation -- two oversized humps, like hippos emerging from the water. Students usually scrawl birthday messages on them, but on that day, the rocks were painted bright orange with the message Deshaun won more ... Beat Bama.In Friersons elementary school, the entire student population was decked out in Clemson colors. They met for a pep rally that afternoon.Hes the only one who could turn this red town orange, Frierson said. I bleed red and black ... and Deshaun orange. 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Its either that or go to the paddock, really.The trainer had been looking at some summer races at Flemington but said with the geldings rating now at 104, he would to get around 61 or 62kg in non black-type races.Warrnambool-based Williams said Turnitaround had pulled up well and after the Ballarat Cup he would probably give him a let-up before bringing him back for stakes races from late January.If Turnitarounds form warrants it, the Australian Cup in March is on the radar.Hes been down to the beach and had a couple of light days there but hes come through Saturdays run really well, Williams said.He might have a little gallop later in the week.Hes had the three runs under his belt but the only tthing Id possibly prefer is for the race to be 2000 metres rather than 2200.ddddddddddddIf he settles the way he did on Saturday I dont think the trip is a problem for him, but having one more run under his belt before going to 2200 might have been ideal.Hugh Bowman rode Turnitaround at Sandown but will not be riding at Ballarat and Williams said Blake Shinn would ride Turnitaround.The Eclipse Stakes was Turnitarounds eighth win from 34 starts and his frst at stakes level.Id love to have a stable full of horses like him, Williams said.Hes very genuine and every time he has a little break he just seems to come back and find another length or two. In the last 12 months you can tell hes got a lot stronger and that probably helps him keep taking those next little steps.Rising Romance is the highest-rated horse among the Ballarat Cup nominations while Victorias premier trainer Darren Weir has entered five horses including Kyneton Cup winner Taiyoo and Saturdays Eclipse Stakes third Lidari. ' ' '
jj009, 07.10.2019 04:07