Rutgers Hard After JUCO Offensive Tackle

A few months ago, Rutgers came upon an offensive tackle playing junior college football. The Scarlet Knights offered him, and visited him earlier this week during the contact period. The player has a unique story, and has already played a college game at Rutgers.

Menelik Watson already made on visit to Piscataway (N.J.), and spent time bumping with Austin Johnson underneath the basket at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

Now, he may come back on an official visit to check out the football program after an unconventional route, to say the least, to a high-level football recruit in the junior college ranks.

Watson, a 6-foot-8, 280-pound offensive tackle at Saddleback College, holds a few handfuls of offers, including ones from Rutgers, California, Oregon, Kansas State, San Diego State, West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky.

He was visited Tuesday by a number of schools, including Rutgers offensive line coach Kyle Flood and USC offensive line coach Ed Orgeron.

"Coach Flood is a good guy, straight forward he preached about strength and conditioning program at Rutgers," Watson said. "I spoke o him a few times on the recruiting trail. He's a good dude. I've spoken to all the staff there."

Watson added playing a basketball game at Rutgers, which took place last season, gives him an early familiarity with the school.

Meanwhile, Orgeron visited Watson as well, and convinced him to make an unofficial visit to USC on Thursday to meet coach Lane Kiffin.

"He was great, energetic," Watson said. "He was excited about the prospect of me going there. He's excited about me possibly going there. I'm going tomorrow to see Lane Kiffin. He said they were very interested."

Watson is from Manchester, England, and went to Marist on a basketball scholarship.

He played for the Red Foxes last season but didn't enjoy his time there, so he looked to transfer. He also wanted a break from basketball, and was convinced by a friend to give football a shot. That same friend had a connection at Saddleback JC, and Watson quickly enrolled.

Watson's first practice was Aug. 22, and within a month schools began contacting him and offering football scholarships.

"I've been doing a lot with basketball my whole life," Watson said. "I thought while I was out here I might as well try football. People said I was built for it and athletic, and I would do well there."

Watson added he did not play football growing up, and never practiced until his first day at Saddleback.

"After the season at Marist, it was very disappointding and I thought about playing football," Watson said. "I wasn't surprised at how physical it was. I expected it. I'm a big guy so I expected it. The transition wasn't hard."

Watson is yet to trim his list, but that could come in the next few weeks.

"I'm probably going to take my visits in January," he said. "I'm not sure where I will go. I wanted to see who came calling before I trimmed it."

Watson will remain at Saddlebrook through the spring and enroll at a four-year school in June. He has two years to play two seasons.

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