Watkins gears up to visit NU

Moeller High School running back Keith Watkins is in no hurry to commit to a school, but he is planning a trip to Evanston, Ill., to check out Northwestern's campus sometime this month. Find out what he's hoping to see in this PurpleWildcats.com recruiting update.

Keith Watkins, a three-star running back prospect out of Cincinnati, is expecting to put off his college decision until after his upcoming football season.

Until then, the Moeller High School product expects to spend a limited amount of time on prospective colleges' campuses and much more time in the weight room.

However, one of the schools Watkins will be visiting before embarking on his senior campaign is Northwestern's, and he knows the school already has one criterion in its favor.

"I went up [to Chicago], I think it was last year, for basketball because I play basketball as well," Watkins said of his exposure to the Windy City. "It was really nice up there, and there was some pizza place – it was like ‘Chicago's famous pizza.'"

After being informed he was probably thinking of Giordano's – which carries the slogan, "Famous Chicago-Style Pizza" – Watkins excitedly noted that the pizza chain's deep-dish definitely "stood out."

In addition to pizza, Watkins said he is seriously considering NU because of his strong relationship with linebackers coach Randy Bates, who talks with the high schooler "at least once a week." He is also excited by the school's academic reputation, which is what he first associated with NU when it emerged on his radar.

But when he arrives on the North Shore for his visit, Watkins said he is seeking something more abstract, yet specific.

"Just a feeling like, ‘Do I feel comfortable here?'" Watkins said. "And if I feel comfortable, and if I like the coaches then you never know what could happen. But that's the main thing, being able to feel comfortable there."

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound back could also be asking that question about Akron, Boston College, Cincinnati, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, West Virginia and Arizona State, which was the most recent school to extend Watkins an offer.

Wisconsin and Penn State could also wind up in the discussion, Watkins said, adding that several schools have indicated that they may want him to switch to defensive back.

While he will play some on that side of the ball this fall, Watkins said playing running back is "important," and he noted that his sights, at this point, are primarily on Moeller's eighth state title.

"One thing I'm focusing on is just pushing my teammates in the weight room and trying to lead them in conditioning because I was selected a captain this year for our football team and it wouldn't be right for a captain to be lazy and not pushing anybody," he said. "Because what captains are supposed to do is help their teammates in anything that they need help in. So basically I've just been trying to get our team ready for the upcoming season."

And maybe, if the stars align for the Moeller Crusaders, Watkins will feel compelled to treat everyone to a big slice of Giordano's.

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