"I'm a proud quarterback, proud friend," Watson said Wednesday. "All the criticism he was getting when he was coming out (of college), he's definitely a guy that I've always encouraged and talked to in the offseason. I've always been - since college days when we played against each other - I've always been friends with him."
That friendship will take a back seat when the 6-3 Texans meet the 7-2 Ravens in the midst of a playoff race.
When the two QBs met at the college level, Jackson put up 457 total yards and three touchdowns for the No. 3-ranked Louisville Cardinals, but Watson countered with 397 yards and five touchdown passes in a 42-36 win for the No. 5-ranked Clemson Tigers.
For his part, Jackson hasn't forgotten the 2016 battle.
"He was just dicing us down the field," Jackson said, according to Ravens writer Ryan Mink. "He was just doing Deshaun Watson things - scoring touchdowns, making incredible throws, and they came out with the victory.
"I can't wait to see him again."