Freshman Tailback Couldn't See It Coming

Jerald Watson talks about making the transition from high school to college football and his injury situation.

Auburn, Ala.--Jerald Watson says that despite hearing all of the stories about how different college football was from the high school game, he could never been prepared for what he encountered when he stepped on the field for his first practice.

"It has been tough," Watson says of his first preseason as a member of the Auburn team. "It is nothing like I expected at all. It is a lot of hard work.

"In high school you really didn't have to put forth too much effort, but here it is a constant battle. Everybody is competing with everybody and it makes it fun. The game speed is just unrealistic. I would tell that to anybody, but you have got to adjust to it."

Along with having to adjust to the "un-realistic" speed of the game and learn a new offense on the fly with very few practice reps, Watson also got the kiss of early playing time death for any true freshman, an injury that kept him out of action for an extended period of time in the preseason.

Following the first scrimmage, Watson was sidelined with a quad injury that kept him sidelined for nearly two weeks. And the freshman notes that setback made having a smooth transition to the college game nearly impossible. "I believe that I was progressing every day, getting better, learning the offense, but once I was out for those 10 or 12 days it totally stopped my progress and threw me for a loop," he says.

Jerald Watson runs the football early in preseason drills.

He adds that missing that practice time was debilitating to every single aspect of the learning process. "I believe that any chance I had of doing anything before I got hurt might be lost unless a miracle happens. But, hopefully I can get better and come out 100 percent before the first game."

Despite the setback the tailback suffered from his injury, Watson still has a chance to contribute early for the Tigers as a kickoff returner. "I am very excited about that," he says. "That was my main goal, to come here and be a returner for these guys. I didn't come here expecting to play running back my freshman year, at least not much. I didn't expect that. But yeah, I am excited."

However, along with the optimism about having a chance to be a kick returner, the 198-pound freshman says he believes his injury likely cost him any chance he had to contribute much at running back.

"I mean anywhere you go you have to gain the trust of your coaches on the field so they can trust you to go in there and know what you are doing," Watson explains. "And, I think that might be a problem because I was out for a while."

With the Tigers' now in their game week schedule and his injury still lingering at 90 percent of being completely healed, Watson says he only has one thing to do. "Get healthy, hopefully," he says. "Things have changed where I could possibly have a shot of getting back there, but my main goal now is to get healthy."

Still, despite the hard adjustment period and the long injury setback, the speedy youngster says that he made the right choice of all the options that were presented to him for his path following high school. "Yeah, I am very happy and excited," Watson notes about his decision to come play football for Auburn.

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