Watson was leader on a young team that finished 10-2, bowing out of the state playoffs with a 41-6 loss to Friendly 10 days ago. Gwynn Park coach Danny Hayes was most proud of Watson's performance in the Yellow Jackets' victory over Forestville, a game in which Watson made a huge catch over the middle and a key block that set up a touchdown -- all despite playing with stitches in his heel.
“He can turn a game around very fast,” Hayes said.
Watson isn't so quick to praise himself, though.
“I feel like I could've done better [this season],” he said. “But I'm hard on myself about stuff like that. It's always difficult not making it back [to the state championship].”
Watson believes his greatest strength is in the passing game, specifically his route-running ability, which he credits to working with former Gwynn Park offensive coordinator and ex-NFL wide receiver Leslie Sheppard. Watson said he'll work to improve his blocking and become more aggressive.
He also looks forward to testing his skills against the superior competition at the college level.
“In high school you only have a few players who are elite athletes,” Watson said. “I'm anxious to test my skills against guys like that and prove that I belong.”
Watson said coach Ralph Friedgen told him he'd be used as an “athletic fullback,” using his route-running and catching skills to provide an aerial threat out of the backfield. He isn't concerned that Maryland's exceptional freshman fullback Corey Jackson stands in his way on the depth chart.
“There's always competition,” he said. “I'm not worried about anything like that. Wherever I can get on the field and however I can contribute, I'm going to be happy.”
Watson will likely redshirt. He wants to contribute right away, but could use the extra year to get bigger, stronger and faster and to learn the playbook. He caught about 20 passes this season and scored eight touchdowns while playing tight end, fullback, defensive end, defensive tackle and kicker.
He's set to take his official visit to College Park this weekend, when he'll be hosted by his former Gwynn Park teammate, Adrian Moten, with whom he talks often.
“He's always checking in on us, getting updates [on how the team is doing],” he said. “It's real good to have someone I played with in high school on the same team in college.”
Watson earned a 3.25 GPA for the first quarter and said he is looking into majoring in kinesiology or sports medicine.
“When I went up to Maryland to visit Coach Friedgen, he talked almost none about football and almost all about academics,” he said. “That's very important to me because football's not promised after this. I felt really comfortable, like he was the type of person who could take care of me.”
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