Adjusting to the big stage

CLEMSON - After delaying the start for one semester at Hargrave Military Academy, Josh Watson has been pleasantly surprised with his first few months of college life.

"I can't complain at all," Watson said. "Campus life is real good. School's real good. I like it a lot. I definitely made the right decision."

Strong words for a guy who's chances at playing time this year are pretty slim.

There are plenty of veterans along the defensive line back from last year's team. The entire five-man rotation at defensive tackle is back along with two shifts of defensive ends.

"It's helping me out a lot. Every step I've made they're correcting me…they're helping me step by step—all the players," Watson said.

"I've got some good teammates that have taken me under their wing. I'm learning from them every day."

Only half-way through spring practice, defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks won't determine Watson's fate just yet. He'll wait through the rest of the spring, summer and fall camp before making that call.

"He's obviously young, a freshman in this system. He's doing some good things. He'll be OK," Brooks said.

Most encouraging of it all for Brooks is Watson's acceptance of what he's been coached in such a short time on campus.

"He's taking coaching and that kind of thing. Right now, he wouldn't be in that rotation, but he's working," Brooks said.

During practice last week, Watson started playing at end after working on the inside. He knew the cross-training would be coming since it was brought up in December during his recruitment. Whatever he can do to get on the field, so be it.

"I'll do anything to get onto the field as early as I can. Even if it's in limited roles, or whatever," he said. "I'm not against redshirting. I've been talking to a lot of guys who were saying that's the best decision they've ever made."

One year ago as a senior at John Dickinson High School in Wilmington, Del., Watson had no offers to play anywhere near this level. Academically qualified, he had to build his resume before getting a sniff at a place like Clemson.

To better place himself on the Division I radar, Watson spent his first semester out of high school at Hargrave.

There, he picked up a four-star rating and racked up offers that included LSU, North Carolina, West Virginia, Boston College and Duke before choosing to sign with Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers.

Now that he's in Tigertown, Watson looks forward to his process of evolving as a college football player.

"I'm they're clay. Whatever they want me molded to, that's fine with me," he said. Top Stories