HOUSTON -- Deshaun Watson has always been an unusually precocious quarterback.
As a true freshman at Clemson, he delivered a touchdown pass during a road game at Georgia on just the sixth snap of his college career as he overtook starter Cole Stoudt.
As a high school freshman at Gainesville High School in Georgia, Watson was named the starter and threw three touchdown passes in his first varsity game.
The path to the Texans' starting job may not come as quickly, though, for the first-round draft pick and national championship winner from Clemson.
Texans head coach Bill O'Brien has installed veteran Tom Savage as the starter over Watson and backup Brandon Weeden as the defending AFC South champions head into training camp at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.
For now, the plan is for Watson to learn behind Savage and gain some seasoning before the Texans consider changing his status.
As much as he's eager to play and contribute, it's a blueprint that Watson is on board with while being coached by O'Brien, a former New England Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for star quarterback Tom Brady.
"It's best for the team," Watson said. "Coach OB knows a lot of football. He's been with the best, if not one of the best in NFL history, Tom Brady. He knows how everything is operated. He knows when the perfect timing will be. He knows when it's right and when it's wrong.
"So, I'm following their footsteps. I'm the rookie and I really don't know no better, so I'm just kind of going with the flow, learning from the vets, learning from the coaching staff. Whenever he calls my name, I'll make sure I'm prepared and go out and perform."
A Heisman Trophy finalist, Davey O'Brien and Manning Award winner -- as well as claiming an ESPY this month for Best Male College Athlete -- Watson has a proven track record of exceeding initial expectations.
In high school and college, Watson emerged as the starter almost immediately.
"That just kind of came natural," Watson said. "I've been playing football my whole life. Coaches felt like I was prepared and ready and they wanted me in there, so I just took advantage of the opportunity and didn't look back.
"This is a whole new level. I'm starting from ground zero. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I'll play my role well and support the team."
Throwing that first touchdown pass against an aggressive blitz package against Georgia made a lasting impression on Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. It was the springboard to a career that included 83 career touchdown passes in three seasons before declaring early for the draft.
"That was the first time we experienced how special Deshaun was," Swinney said.
"It was a really exotic blitz, very dangerous. If we didn't get into the right protection and call, it could be a big-time sack and free hit on the quarterback. We couldn't believe he could do that as a true freshman. That was a sign that this young man was different and one of the special ones."
Watson finished his college career with 9,201 passing yards, also rushing for 1,744 yards and 21 scores. Prior to enrolling early at Clemson, Watson set Georgia high school state records with 17,134 yards of total offense and 218 touchdowns.
Watson has made a good first impression on the Texans' coaching staff, especially O'Brien, who's operating as the offensive coordinator after the team parted ways with George Godsey after last season.
Watson puts in overtime, haunting the Texans' film room and weight room on days off to make sure he's prepared.
"He's doing good," O'Brien said. "For a rookie coming in here, he's spent a lot of time. He's studying hard. He has great questions. He has good answers to the questions when we kind of quiz them every morning. I've been impressed with all three guys. It's a good room and he's working hard."
In consecutive national championship games against Alabama, Watson passed for a combined 825 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception. He delivered the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds to cap his prolific college career in the BCS national title game last season.
"He was special, a once-in-a-lifetime player and person," Gainesville coach Bruce Miller said. "He was self-motivated with a terrific work ethic. You could tell football was one of his main priorities in his life. He was so coachable, just wanted it so bad.
"It was amazing what he did behind the scenes to be good. He's what coaches call a 'film hound.' He goes hunting for film. He can't watch enough. He is an extremely fast learner. The Texans got themselves a good one. He's the type of kid that can take the Texans franchise a step higher."
Competing against the Texans' top-ranked defense during minicamps and organized team activities, Watson got a glimpse of the increased speed of the game and the quick adjustments he'll need to make to diagnose defensive schemes designed to confuse him.
"Everyone can run at this level," Watson said. "Everyone is smart. Everyone watches film. Everyone is athletic. You have to approach the game differently. You can't take a play off at this level. If you do, you will get smoked."
TOP THREE TRAINING CAMP GOALS
--J.J. Watt must remain healthy. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year missed most of last season after undergoing a pair of back surgeries to repair a herniated disk. Watt hasn't been exposed to any contact drills yet but was fully cleared and participated in all offseason practices. His health is paramount to the NFL's top-ranked defense.
--Build timing in the passing game. The Texans sorely need new starting QB Tom Savage to get off to a good start at building chemistry with Pro Bowl alternate wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins' production dipped last season during the failed Brock Osweiler experiment. He seems to click better with Savage, but Savage has yet to throw a touchdown pass in an NFL regular-season game.
--Improve red-zone offense. The Texans ranked 31st in the NFL in red-zone offense last season. They couldn't effectively throw the ball or run the ball into the end zone, relying on kicker Nick Novak to provide points. They need to spend a lot of extra time on this shortcoming.
PROJECTED CAMP DEPTH CHART
QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Tom Savage. Backups -- Brandon Weeden, Deshaun Watson.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Duane Brown, LG Xavier Su'a-Filo, C Nick Martin, RG Jeff Allen, RT Chris Clark. Backups -- T Kendall Lamm, G Chad Slade, G David Quessenberry, C Greg Mancz, T Breno Giacomini, C Erik Austell, C Kyle Fuller, T Laurence Gibson, T Julie'n Davenport, G Josh Walker.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DLE J.J. Watt, NT D.J. Reader, DRE Jadeveon Clowney. Backups -- DT Eli Ankou, DE Christian Covington, DE Matt Godin, DE Joel Heath, DE Carlos Watkins, DE Daniel Ross, DE Ufomba Kamalu, NT Ricky Hatley, DE Brandon Dunn.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB Whitney Mercilus, ILB Brian Cushing, ILB Benardrick McKinney, SLB Brennan Scarlett. Backups -- ILB Dylan Cole, ILB Zach Cunningham, OLB Eric Lee, ILB Sio Moore, ILB Brian Peters, OLB Gimel President, OLB Dayon Pratt, ILB Shakeel Rashad, OLB Tony Washington, ILB Avery Williams.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Johnathan Joseph, RCB Kareem Jackson, FS Andre Hal, SS Corey Moore. Backups -- CB Kevin Johnson, CB Robert Nelson, CB Dee Virgin, CB Marcus Roberson, CB Denzel Rice, S Kurtis Drummond, S Lonnie Ballentine, S K.J. Dillon, S Eddie Pleasant, CB Bryce Jones, CB Treston Decoud.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Nick Novak, P Shane Lechler, LS Jon Weeks, KOR Tyler Ervin, PR Will Fuller, K Ka'imi Fairbairn, P Cory Carter.