"I had to show him that I'm kind of strong," the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Watkins said. "We had squats that morning. I put up 415. He didn't think I could do it. I think he was pretty impressed."
Watkins reports a scholarship offer from Iowa as well as opportunities from Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Cincinnati, Akron, Boston College, Northwestern and Minnesota. Michigan State, Illinois and Stanford are showing interest, he said.
Watkins said he has unofficially visited Michigan State, Kentucky, West Virginia and Cincinnati.
"I'm still kind of open right now," he said. "I'm trying to get my choices down, but it's really still kind of hard. I'm really wide open right now."
Watkins is looking at camping at Michigan State this summer. He plans on visiting Iowa and other schools after his senior season.
"Football is coming around and I'm a captain this year," Watkins said. "I really can't miss any of the lifts or other workouts. I want to get the state championship ring and then focus more on recruiting.
"I've been talking to my parents. I don't want to be rushed into my decision. I want to be able to visit the different colleges and see which one fits me well."
Watkins is considering pediatric dentistry and sports medicine as possible majors. Academics will play a major role in his college decision, he said.
"I was talking to my mom, and she made the point that I should go to a place I like even if I was to get hurt and not be able to play football anymore," Watkins said. "I want to go somewhere that complements me academically. I go to Moeller, which is very high on academics. It doesn't make any sense to go somewhere that academics aren't a top priority."
On the field, scouts like Watkins' versatility. He plans to play defensive back this season for the first time on the Moeller varsity.
"I think I'm an all-purpose back," he said. "I can run the ball well and catch it out of the backfield. Some of the recruiters like that they can put me at different spots on the field, like the slot. A lot of the colleges tell me they want to get the ball in my hands so that's why they would use me on kickoff and punt returns."
Watkins reports running a 4.5-second, 40-yard dash last football season. He also plays on the Moeller basketball team.
Iowa has intrigued Watkins. He enjoyed his conversation with Ferentz.
"My coach has been talking to me and saying Iowa is a great school," Watkins said. "It's one of the schools that I'm pretty interested in right now."