Exactly two months ago today, Bryce Watts committed to Rutgers and the two-way athlete from Toms River North (N.J.) High School got the ball rolling for the Scarlet Knights on the recruiting trail.
Becoming the second early commit in the class, the recruiting momentum has since snowballed for a group boasting 10 verbal commits to date.
As Rutgers’ class grows, so does Watts’ inevitable interest from other programs. With the likes of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Purdue pitching offers to Watts, his popularity gradually increased since a commitment to coach Chris Ash.
But according to Dave Oizerowitz, his head coach at Toms River North for the past three years, Watts’ stance with Rutgers has not wavered.
“We communicate everyday … he’s a very firm commitment to Rutgers University,” Oizerowitz said. “As far as any interest he has outside of the program, I think that’s more about these schools really liking him more than anything else. Like any kid that goes through the process, you know, of course those schools are gonna come in. (High school prospects are) flattered by an offer. But at the end of the day, right now, looking at it, he’s very firm to Rutgers.”
Competing at Rivals Camp and The Opening Regional (N.J.) roughly one month ago, Watts has been showcasing his talents on a wider platform, sharpening his attention and with the goal of improving his overall game in the offseason.
The 6-foot, 165-pound athlete has spent his spring focused strictly on football after a strained hamstring sidelined him from sprinting on the track and field team, according to Oizerowitz.
While his physical frame has plenty of room to fill out, his coach — and a host of college recruiters — sees potential for Watts to make an immediate impact at the next level.
“I think the other thing that is attractive (about Watts) — a few recruiters told me this, including Rutgers University — (they) really like his ability to contribute immediately,” Oizerowitz said. “He’s a guy that is a tremendous return specialist and the punt return game, especially. I think he’s a great punt returner and has a lot of ability in the kick return game as well to be a guy that can change field position and if not put one in the end zone, take it to the house.
“I think he’s a great prospect that can, potentially, down the road, be a guy that grows into his body a little bit. He’s still lean, has a lot of weight to put on — he’s maybe 165 (pounds) — but he’s a guy that when he gets to his sophomore year of college will be 185 solid, maybe 190, 195 pounds in their weight room program.”
“Defensively, that’s where I really, personally, foresee him where his future lies,” he said. “I know coach Ash and Rutgers’ staff kind of think the same way along those lines, I think he’s a prototype corner. He’s got the size, he’s got the length and he’s got tremendous speed — maybe one of the two or three fastest guys in New Jersey to play football — and he has elite ball skills and he’s got a huge catch radius. He’s a guy that can not just defend, get his hands on you and guard you in a bump and run or trial-man technique. He really can do it all.”
With potential beaming from his blazing speed on the field and on the track — Oizerowitz said Watts runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and runs a 6.8-second 100-meter dash with winter track times that ranked top five in the state — Watts’s biggest strength is obvious.
But beyond the numbers, Oizerowitz’s assessment of Watts’s instinctive speed on the gridiron is what adds to his intrigue and sets him apart from his peers.
“Bryce is a guy that’s a football player,” Oizerowitz said. “You watch his film and you get the documented time or he runs a functional (time). To me, speed’s relative to how functional it is. When you talk to recruiters that come around, they same the same thing. It’s nice if he runs a great time. But if Bryce was to run a subpar time on one or two runs, if wouldn’t be something that would affect me because he’s faster than everybody else on the football field. … But Bryce is unique because he can run those validated times and then on the football field, he backs it up and plays just as fast. And that’s why I think the recruiters are all excited about him.”