Sleeper OL Talks Recruiting

Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson standout Jason Watkins is used to competing against players his same height on the basketball court but not on the football field. At 6-8 1/2 and 278 pounds, Watkins is a towering left tackle at the prep level. He's even played some tight end.

"I only have three catches but I'm always open," Watkins said. "I don't know why they dont throw me the ball more. Nobody is going to outjump me for the ball. But I've been playing mostly offensive tackle, which is what I'll do in college."

Watkins, who grew up as a basketball player near New Orleans, said he never even considered playing football until he moved to Florida with his father.

"I was always a basketball player," he said. "I played on the all-star teams with guys like Derron Thomas. Vegas Franklin, who plays football at Miami now, lived right behind us. We used to be real tight. I used to be short and fat and he would always beat me up. Then when I got to 9th grade, that all changed. Then when I moved to Florida, everyone talked about how big football was. So I started playing and now it's been about a year and a half."

Watkins is just starting to tap into his natural abilities as a football player.

"I've heard people compare me to (Bryant McKinnie) because of my size and feet or whatever," he said. "He hadn't played much either."

Watkins, a full academic qualifier, is getting several phone calls each night from college coaches all across the country.

"I just talked to Oklahoma and Nebraska before you called tonight," he said. "I talk to LSU a lot, Georgia, Michigan State, Auburn, Florida. I talked to Miami's O-Line coach, Art Kehoe, last week."

Speaking of Kehoe, Watkins said the Hurricanes were one of the first schools to begin recruiting him.

"They knew about me right away," he said. "Miami's a great program and Coach Kehoe seems real cool. But I just don't know about Miami, it aint really my thing. Vegas loves it there though. I talked to him on the sidelines before the game against Florida."

The talented big man has three official visits lined up, while he's still debating on who will get the remaining two.

"I go to LSU on November 7th and then Auburn on November 22nd," he said. "The only other one I have set up is Florida and I believe it's January 9th. I'm not sure about the other ones. I definitely want to visit Oklahoma and then maybe Georgia or Auburn too. I'm not sure about Miami yet."

Watkins said he's not sure of a favorite right now but has a few programs in mind.

"LSU is after me big time and I have family there," he said. "But I also have family here. Florida's tight. I'm pretty open to anything right now. I'm just amazed at how all this has happened. Florida, Miami, Oklahoma, LSU, all these schools have given me a scholarship offer and call me on the phone every week. It's crazy sometimes."

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