Written by Erik McKinney at ESPN.com
In mid-August, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson gave a scathing critique of people who referred to him as a dual-threat quarterback. In an interview with Bleacher Report, Watson said, “People think, ‘Oh, he’s a black quarterback. He must be dual-threat.’ People throw that word around all the time. It’s lazy.”
Well, good news, Deshaun: You might have personally played a critical role in making that “dual-threat” label obsolete.
Watson and quarterbacks with similar skill sets have changed college football and quarterback recruiting, and they should change the accepted definition of what a “dual-threat” quarterback is.
Almost exclusively, dual-threat quarterbacks have been those whose scrambling ability far outweighed their talent throwing the ball, while those without that running ability were deemed “pocket passers” and “pro-style” quarterbacks.
What happens now, when agility, mobility and movement in and out of the pocket aren’t just bonuses — they’re necessities — when it comes to quarterbacks? Maybe it’s time to slide that “pro-style” designation away from “pocket passer” and over to “dual-threat,” where it truly belongs.
Watson threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns in leading Clemson to a win over Alabama in the national championship game. He rushed for 43 yards and another score. And the Tigers aren’t the only program heading that direction, as three young signal-callers took over at historic bluebloods and led the way to successful seasons.
With Sam Darnold at USC, Trace McSorley at Penn State and Jalen Hurts at Alabama, three programs where pocket passers have dominated the landscape went to dual-threats this year. None of it involved moving away from pro-style offenses.
“It’s been all year we’ve found his ability to create in the pocket,” USC head coach Helton said of Darnold before the Rose Bowl. “We’ve been able to call our pro-style passing game, knowing his elite arm strength and being able to throw the ball down the field, and in trusting him … It just gives you so much trust in being able to call those passes — [not just] run game with perimeter but truly the pro-style offense that we want to be — and he’s been really effective in creating.”
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