“Everybody’s excited,” Watson Sr. said. “Everybody’s happy he’s home.”
Watson played four games for the Longhorns in 2019 and played in two of their first three games this season. He was second on the depth chart at cornerback. Watson Sr. said that his reasons for leaving Texas were not related to playing time. While his son liked Texas, he had grown homesick. And then in September, two members of the Watson family tested positive for COVID-19.
“The biggest thing was just the whole pandemic and getting back closer to home, and that was it,” Watson Sr. said. “That was really it.”
In looking for a landing spot closer to home, finding a coach who would prepare him for an NFL career was a high priority. That was a plus for Collins, who has a record of sending players – particularly defensive backs – to the NFL.
“He’s a really good coach, a really good person,” Watson Sr. said. “Other than proximity, his ability to develop NFL guys was probably the second most important reason.”
Watson’s height and size – he’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 184 pounds – fit Collins' prototype, to say nothing of his playmaking ability. Collins was the only Tech coach involved in the recruitment, evidence of its importance to him, Watson Sr. said. On Oct. 8, two days after Collins first reached out, Watson committed.
“It was bang, bang, bang,” Watson Sr. said.
Watson has returned home for the rest of the semester, taking classes online and working out with trainers. He’ll be able to enroll at Tech in January. The same month, the NCAA is expected to pass a rule change allowing every athlete one opportunity to transfer without having to sit out a season. It’s not clear if that change will cover Watson, but if not, he would certainly seem to have a compelling case for an immediate-eligibility waiver.
In that case, he would have four seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2021.
Watson already knows a few members of the Tech roster. He was a teammate in youth football with defensive lineman Jamal Camp, trained with cornerback Myles Sims and attended camps with running back Jamious Griffin.
“There’s just a lot of support there,” Watson Sr. said. “Proximity, close to home – so we’re thankful. We’re very thankful for the opportunity.”