Under Chad Morris, SMU has identified and offered top-tier in-state players earlier than most other schools. One example is 2017 Plano East defensive tackle Deiontae Watts , whom SMU offered more than two months before he grabbed another offer. Now he’s rated a four-star prospect and holds 16 offers.
SMU has recruited Watts longer than most teams and has built a strong relationship with him. The relationship is a big reason he still maintains strong interest in SMU, even after picking up offers from Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Baylor, Arkansas, USC, Mississippi, and a handful of others.
“The contact between me and SMU has been very consistent,” Watts said. “I love the coaches there. We’re really close. So it’s great to have a good relationship with them.”
Defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt and defensive backs coach Jess Loepp are Watts’ primary recruiters. Loepp is the Plano area recruiter. Watts even talks to head coach Chad Morris sometimes.
“They really explain how they’re building up, starting a new thing and trying to make something happen there. I have a great opportunity to help build it up,” Watts said. “It’d be a pretty big thing to say that you were a part of that. That and they tell me that I have the potential to start and play my first year.”
Watts said relationships will be a big factor in his decision. He said the relationships he has with the SMU coaches are the strongest ones he has with any staff.
“I don’t want to go to a school where I haven’t really learned about the coach or built a relationship,” Watts said. “It’s nice to go in where you really know the person.”
Even though SMU has recruited Watts longer, the bigger and prominent names are still in consistent contact with the 6-foot-3, 302-pound defensive tackle.
“Plenty of schools, Baylor, Oklahoma, the ones that are local,” Watts said. “Those are the ones that are really talking to me.”
Watts is originally from Chickasha, Okla. and grew up a Sooners fan. He moved to Texas when he was in second grade. He wasn’t shy about saying that the Oklahoma offer was a special one. He also took a spring unofficial to Oklahoma.
“One thing that really made it special was the fact that I’m from there,” Watts said. “That’s really it and that I have family there. When they heard that, they were like, ‘Awesome!’”
Watts said he plans to release a top 10 at the beginning of the season, so he’s not in a hurry to make a decision after he finishes school at the end of May.
He first visited SMU in January, along with his quarterback, Miklo Smalls. He returned for SMU’s bigger junior day on Feb. 20. On the second visit, SMU’s academic presentation impressed him.
“They have every major,” Watts said. “It’s like they said, ‘anything you want to be, we have it here.’ They have it all there, and it’s close to home especially. Everything about it was just good.”
Scout’s second-ranked defensive tackle in Texas hasn’t set any other visits for the summer, but he has a list in mind.
“I know that I want to go back to SMU for sure,” Watts said. “Oklahoma, I want to go back to Texas as well. A&M as well.”