Massive Juco Lineman Has Tigers On Top

Menelik Watson discusses his official visit to Auburn and what has the Tigers on top.

Manchester, England—A former soccer player in his home country of England turned basketball player at Marist College in New York, massive Menelik Watson has turned his attention to the game of American football and it could be just the ticket to success in the United States for the athletic big man.

Standing 6-6 in his bare feet and weighing 320 pounds, Watson was talked into giving football a try after two seasons at Marist didn't give him the feel he was looking for in a school or a sport. Choosing the school quickly after playing on a travel ball team, Watson headed out to San Diego to work and try to find a way to play football and get a shot at earning a scholarship.

Weighing 308 pounds and in tennis shoes, Watson showed up at a Velocity combine to try to catch someone's eye and that he did. Running a 4.72 40-yard dash he showed he had the size and athleticism to make it worth someone's while to give him a shot.

Moving to Saddleback College in California last summer he picked up the game of football in August and has quickly become a phenomenon. Earning Second-Team All-Conference honors and a load of scholarship offers, Watson had already taken an official visit to Washington before his trip over the weekend to Auburn.

Already familiar with Coach Jeff Grimes he said taking the trip down South to check out the Tigers was everything he had hoped it would be and much, much more. Although he has seen Auburn just once he said he went home with a new favorite in mind.

"It was nice," Watson said. "I got to see everything, the facilities, and meet all the players, meet all the coaches and the academic staff. It was great. It was something I needed to do. I have a lot of interest in Auburn, great football and great competition. For me, it's exciting. Actually being there from where I've come from is a little surreal but it is real because I've put work in to get myself to the next level.

"They are number one," he added. "It's just the feel for Coach Jeff Grimes. There is no one better right now."

One of the things that prospects mention repeatedly when talking about Auburn is the Auburn Family. It's something that not only impacts longtime football fans and players, but also someone new to the game and Auburn like Watson.

"The family vibe you get there, not just from the team but also the people involved in the football program," he said about his favorite part of the trip. "Everybody from people in the streets to the kids, they get a lot of support. That was probably the biggest thing for me, the family environment."

Heading home to England to spend Christmas with his family for the first time in two years, Watson said he'll talk things over with his coach at Saddleback before he makes any decisions on his future. He also plans to take his visits to make sure his heart and mind are in the right place as well.

"Right now I'm looking at Florida State," Watson said in addition to Auburn and Washington. "A lot of schools have offered. My decision is not based on, everyone has nice campuses and big facilities. My decision is based on the players and coaches, my general feel. I like to feel things out first. My decision will not be swayed by how many people you seat. Being there had a great feel, a fantastic feel. It's similar to what I felt at Saddleback. It's exciting for me.

"I promised my head coach I wouldn't make any decision on a visit," he added. "It's something I just promised him. When schools were coming out and talking with me I was like ‘oh yeah'. He saw a pattern developing that every time someone came and talked to me I was excited. I promised him I wouldn't do anything like that, but he knows how strongly I feel about Auburn and how strongly I feel about getting to the next level and what it's going to take me and who's going to get me there. I feel like the situation couldn't be any better to be honest."


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