Viking star discusses commitment to Idaho

Coeur d'Alene two-sport star DEON WATSON (6-5, 205, 4.7) has had a stellar high school career. On the hardwood this week he eclipsed 1000 points for his career. On the gridiron the two-way starter (WR/DE) caught 54 passes for 931 yards and 13 touchdowns, helping lead the Vikings to their second consecutive State Championship. GVN talked with Watson about his commitment to Robb Akey and Idaho.

Two-time Class 5A state champion Coeur d'Alene (Ida.) High School is a program loaded with play makers on both sides of the ball. The team went a perfect 12-0 this year and was nationally ranked for much of the season. Their passing attack was prolific, and their defense was stingy.

One athlete that could make a strong claim to making an impact on both sides of the ball is two-year, two-way starter Deon Watson, a gifted 6-foot-5, 205-pound athlete who brings 4.7-40 speed to the field that lined up at wide receiver and defensive end for the Vikings. And now, with his high school football career complete and his college decision eminent, the Coeur d'Alene record books are peppered with the Watson name. For 2011 Watson caught 54 passes (No. 6 all-time for a single season) for 931 yards (No.2) and 13 touchdowns (No.1). He averaged an impressive 17.2 yards per reception as a senior. For his career, he ranks No. 1 in receptions (93), receiving yards (1,513), and touchdowns (19). Defensively, during his two-year career as a starter he amassed 23 tackles-for-loss (No.6) and 12.5 sacks (No.2) from his defensive end position.

His effort on the field did not go unnoticed. Last month Deon Watson was named a First Team All-State selection at wide receiver, and a Second Team All-State pick at defensive end. He also was named a First Team All-League pick at wide receiver this year.

With his outstanding performance on the field, college programs began taking notice early. Watson weighed scholarship offers from Idaho and Washington State, as well as interest from a number of other programs.

And Watson's goal of competing at the collegiate level wasn't confined to the football field either. A star basketball player for the Vikings, Watson surpassed 1000-points for his career as a four-year starter this week when he scored 19 points and nailed three 3s in the Vikings upset of Post Falls 51-48. Not surprisingly, his performance on the court is garnering interest from several basketball programs.

All of which puts into perspective Idaho head coach Robb Akey's excitement when he received word that Watson had made his decision, and was committing to the Vandals.

"Recruiting has been great," Watson told "I've been keeping an open mind. I just committed to Idaho -- I'm very comfortable with that decision, and I think that was the right decision. I'm basically just waiting for the recruiting process to finish so I can get signing."

Watson made his commitment in late December shortly after his official visit to the Idaho campus. "I committed two weeks after I visited. I talked it over with my parents and I called up Robb Akey over the phone."

And coach Akey's reaction? "He was pretty happy. He had been waiting for it for a long time." Watson received one of Idaho's first scholarship offers, with coach Akey reportedly extending the offer in December of 2010.

"The thing about Idaho is that the coaching staff cared about me," Watson stated regarding the factors that went into his decision. "It was a place where I could fit in. The visit really did it for me. That's what really made me want to commit. It's just a family atmosphere – the team and coaches. So, that really just stuck with me."

Watson also talked about the coaching change in Pullman. "When they hired Mike Leach I really did not have that same connection with Washington State that I did before," Watson told "I would still say that Idaho was my top pick above them, just because I got to know the Idaho coaches a little bit more, they stayed in more contact, and they seemed to care just a little bit more. That is the main reason why I picked Idaho.

"And I feel like Idaho will let me have some room to grow and give me a good chance."

A life-long friend of Coeur d'Alene highlight reel quarterback Chad Chalich, the two met in first grade and have been friends ever since. As high school seniors Watson became one of Chalich's top targets this fall, and the prospect of being teammates at the next level is something that both athletes are looking forward to in Moscow. Chalich was the first to commit to Idaho, making his verbal pledge in late November. One month later, Watson made his decision as well.

"Having Deon down there [at Idaho] with me is going to be sweet," Chalich told last week. "We've been playing football together since fourth grade – we started in flag football, then junior tackle, then high school. We met each other in first grade, so we've known each other for a long time. That's going to be sweet going to college and having four more years together."

And although Watson could make an impact on either side of the ball, there is a strong probability that "Chalich to Watson" is a phrase Vandal fans could be hearing a lot in the future. A First Team All-State pick at wide receiver, the Vandals are recruiting him to play tightend at Idaho to take advantage of his combination of size, hands, and speed. Such a position change is not unusual. Most recently at Idaho, Daniel Hardy made a similar transition from wide receiver to H-Back/tightend, and parlayed it into a 7th Round NFL Draft choice by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011.

Watson is planning to redshirt this fall, but ultimately the decision and determination will be made when the coaches evaluate him after he reports to the program in August.

Beyond the chance to continue his career with Chalich, Watson made a connection with the Idaho players as well.

"I was a little late for the visit," Watson said when describing the official visit to Idaho. "I'm obviously committed to basketball [at CDA High]. I had to be there for my teammates, and I didn't want to miss out on practice, so I went down to Moscow a little later. We got to mingle with the players that were there – great guys, I loved it. Hanging out with my quarterback also [Chad Chalich], that was pretty fun.

"Then they introduced me to a few more players, some of the graduating linemen, and it was just great getting to know those guys. They told me a lot about Idaho, and it was just fun all the way around."

For long-time University of Idaho fans, especially those on the basketball side, the name Deon Watson should sound familiar. He shares the same name with his father, who starred at the University of Idaho from 1990-94. At 6-foot-8, the elder Watson set the Idaho career rebounding record with 877 boards – a record that still stands today. He also ranks No.2 all-time in blocked shots with 131 for his career. He led the 1993-94 team in rebounding (282) and was a First Team All Conference selection.

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