Watson's BYU trip better than expected

California running back Tre Watson, who has committed to Cal, went to BYU's Junior Day with his mother, brother, and fellow Centennial High School teammate Devonte McKneely. BYU had to bring its best game, and according to Watson, that was the case.

Tre Watson visited BYU to see if his commitment to Cal was the right one.

"It was a great experience," said Watson. "It was nothing how I thought it would be going into it, how people always exaggerate things saying how strict it is and things like that. The coaches are laid back and it's like a regular college. They just have different morals and values and they expect more of you. It's nothing different than a regular university."

In a previous interview, Watson said BYU had to bring its best to get him to rethink his commitment to Cal.

"BYU, they brought their A-game," Watson said. "February 2nd is when everything is finalized, so I'm committed to Cal for sure. They have my heart, but you never know what can happen until then."

The one aspect of Watson's visit to BYU that really stood out to him was the unique environment found on and around campus.

"Honestly, the love the people give around there and the environment is definitely a-number-1," Watson said.

After visiting BYU personally and seeing what it truly is like there, Watson could actually see himself fitting in well with the students, players and community if he ever decides to change his mind.

"I liked the fact that if I did go to that school that I could come in early and take over early. I don't know, it's just a great football environment up there and it's just a great school."

So what were the differences between what he experienced at Cal and BYU?

"Ah, that's a hard question honestly," said Watson. "Cal is more of an outdoors-type of school and located more in the woods. BYU was more in the industrialized area. There wasn't that much different about it. It was just the people. Everyone at BYU is so nice and says hi and bye and everyone is so happy."

It's no secret BYU is known for its unique environment. From the time Watson stepped foot on campus, he felt comfortable and right at home.

"Oh, I felt very loved," said Watson. "Ever since I walked onto the field all of the coaches were showing me love. The players were showing me love and I got a chance to interact with former players and players playing there now. It was just great."

The overall experience at BYU exceeded Watson's every expectation.

"Oh yes sir, no doubt," he said. "They really impressed me because I thought I was going to come in there and everybody was going to be uptight and just strict. Everybody was cool and laidback and they made me and my family and teammate feel at home. It was a great day.

"Honestly, I didn't know what to expect and thought the players would all be quiet and just … I don't know. They were all laidback and just like any other football player. They liked to have fun but they're all really good guys. It was a fun trip."

Watson spent time with some current and former Cougars during his visit.

"I got to talk with Jamaal Williams for a long time, and I got a chance to talk with Preston Hadley," Watson said. "He played there last year and was number seven and gave us the tour. Those two pretty much gave me the lowdown of everything on what the coaches won't tell you. It was really good."

Watson's mother and brother accompanied him on his visit.

"They showed my mom extreme love," Watson said. "She really loved it, her and my little brother. They helped him and helped watch him over there because he a little hyper. They had a little day camp going on for him. They gave my mom a tour and she loved it. She loved the things that they had going on up there. She loved the scenery and everything."

On the way home Watson asked his mother what she thought about BYU's high moral demands.

"She thinks that's how everybody should live anyways," Watson said. "She loved it."

Watson then asked her if going to BYU would put her at ease, knowing he would be expected to live a higher standard.

"She said, ‘Absolutely, absolutely,'" Watson said. "She said absolutely, knowing that I would be under the wings of Coach Mark Atuaia. She said that's what she wants. She looks forward to it."

It would appear that although Watson has committed to Cal, BYU still has a chance at swaying him.

"Of course, of course, and they're up there and I'm not going to close any doors yet," Watson said. "No doors are closed and my eyes are open and stay opened-minded about everything, and they put a good impression on me, so you never know."

During his visit, Watson was able to see what BYU has to offer both academically and from a football standpoint.

"I got to tour everything," Watson said. "We got to see the school, every facility they have, the different type of fields, the weight room, cafeteria, and we got to see it all. It was a nice thing and set up nicely. Everything was set up nicely and it was clean especially. Everything was clean."

When rating his overall BYU experience on a scale of 1-to-10, Watson gave it a perfect score.

"Oh, it was 10," he said. "No doubt it was 10."

Like her son, Watson's mother also gave BYU high marks.

"She said she would have to give them a high nine, because everywhere and anywhere there is always room for improvement," Watson said.

Even his little brother had a great time.

"He loved it and they made him feel really at home," said Watson. "He really loved it up there. He got to watch TV, play games, run around and he had a great time."

Watson's Centennial teammate Dvonte McKneely also accompanied him for Junior Day.

"He said he loved it up there and it was more than he expected," Watson said. "He said he could see himself playing in a BYU uniform, and he would love to go up there again and gives it a 10, no doubt. So, we'll see where this takes him and you never know."

McKneely is a 5-foot-11-inch, 200-pound receiver who was named second-team all-league Big VIII after hauling in 41 catches for 598 yards and three touchdowns last season as a junior. Watson claims BYU is now taking a closer look at him as well.

"Yeah, now they're definitely interested in him, so we'll see what happens," Watson said.

Now that he's seen and experienced firsthand what BYU is all about, the stereotypes and false perceptions he was given have all been whipped away. Watson admits that it definitely has made it a much tougher decision for him.

"Oh yeah, this definitely opened up the door for me," said Watson. "I thought after getting recruited by them, ‘Ah, I don't know about that school,' just because of all the things I've heard. Now it's kind of like, ‘It's a better thing than what I heard,' so you never know."

Although he's made his commitment to Cal public, Watson would still love for BYU to recruit him. He's only given a verbal commitment, and nothing as of now is set in stone.

"Like I said earlier I want to stay open-minded, so I don't want to close any doors right now until everything is finalized," said Watson. "I would love for BYU to continue to recruit me if that's what they want to do and you never know what can happen. I'm number-one on their list and so it's a great thing.

"They showed me things that I never thought it would be like that. I definitely loved it up there. It was great! You have to give it up to the Cougars. It was great."

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