Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson smiles during a news conference Tuesday, a day after the Tigers beat Alabama 35-31 in national championship game. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Clemson star Deshaun Watson wanted to attend Florida. And Tigers coach Dabo Swinney gave him a chance to go.

Watson called Swinney to commit on national signing day in February 2012, while the quarterback was a sophomore in high school.

"He said, 'Coach, I'm ready to be your quarterback,'" Swinney recalled Tuesday, less than 12 hours after Clemson upset Alabama 35-31 in the national title game. "I actually tried to talk him out of it. I said, 'Listen, Deshaun, you're just in the 10th grade. Why don't we let this just kind of marinate a little while?'"

Watson had more than a dozen offers, but none from the Gators. The Gainesville, Georgia, native instead stuck with Clemson, even though Swinney wasn't ready to be all in.

"I knew he was an unbelievable," Swinney said. "I knew what we were going to be dealing with and all the other schools. I literally tried to talk him out of it. But he said,, 'No, Coach, this is what I want to do.'

"And that's the epitome of Deshaun Watson. He knew what he wanted to do early. He didn't take another official visit anywhere, stayed true to his word, and he came in and went to work. The rest is history."

For both programs, really.