New year, new ATL target: DL Jordan Watkins

In what's becoming a familiar refrain to observers of Stanford football recruiting, the Cardinal are at it in Georgia again, this time targeting a defensive lineman with lofty academic aspirations. DL Jordan Watkins hails from current Stanford DL Henry Anderson's alma mater of Woodward Academy (College Park, Ga.), and is a stud in his own right, claiming 20 offers already.

A few weeks back, Cardinal co-defensive coordinator Derek Mason paid Jordan Watkins a visit at his high school.

"The first time I talked to anyone from Stanford, it was Coach Mason," Watkins said. "He was just basically saying he saw the highlight tape and he liked what he saw. It was right before basketball practice, so it's not like it was a long conversation or anything."

Before Mason left Watkins for the day, however, he informed the recruit that Cardinal head coach David Shaw would be soon be paying him a visit.

"The next day he and Coach Shaw came, and they offered then," Watkins said. "Coach Mason told (Coach Shaw) I played basketball, and Coach Shaw was telling me he has a hook shot I can't defend."

While the merits of Shaw's post game are debatable, Watkins thinks he'll have a chance to try and get a hand in coach's face soon enough.

"He hasn't had a chance to show it to me yet, but I have a sense it's coming," Watkins said.

However, Watkins might not have a chance to hit the hardwood with Shaw in the near future. Watkins is in the midst of his team's basketball season, and between academic and basketball responsibilities, he hasn't had a chance to dive too deeply into the recruiting process just yet. Indeed, he hasn't begun to pare down his list of schools.

"I've been really busy with school and basketball and everything, so I haven't really been looking into it that deeply," Watkins said. "Basketball season will be done soon, and then I'll have time to think about it and research and take visits, and I'll have favorites then."

When Watkins does start to immerse himself in the recruiting process, he'll do so with an eye on schools that satisfy two main requirements: strong academics, particularly in the realm of broadcast communications, and a top-notch football program with a solid alumni and fan base.

"First and foremost are definitely the academics," said Watkins, who reports a 3.66 GPA. "I want to go to a great academic school, and not just a great academic school. I want to go to a school that has classes for what I want to major in which is broadcast journalism.

"After that comes football. How good is the team? What promise does the team have in the next few years? How are the fans and how are the university and alumni towards the football program? Those are the two of the largest fields right there, in what I'm looking for."

If Watkins is interested in learning more about what Stanford has to offer in those categories, he'll have a great resource at his disposal. 2010 Stanford signee Henry Anderson is also a Woodward High School graduate, and Watkins and Anderson played together for one season.

"I got to play a year with him," Watkins said. "I really learned a lot from him in how you handle the Friday nights, how you handle the recruiters and at the same time how you still do well in school, because Henry was a crazy brilliant student. I learned a lot from him in that year I was on the field with him."

Where Watkins ends up on the field at the collegiate level, however, is not entirely clear at this point. It will probably depend on the scheme he plays in.

"I've always been playing in a 4-3, so I really don't know exactly how it would feel to play in a 3-4," Watkins said. "I've been told different positions depending on the defensive scheme: in a 4-3, probably like a three-technique defensive lineman, in a 3-4 maybe a defensive end.

"We play a little bit of a nickel defense (at Woodward) where we have a three-man front, and I play end in that sometimes, but that's really the only experience I have playing in a 3-4 and playing defensive end, so I don't really have a big preference towards either."

Watkins will have ample time to gather more information on where he might fit best in the upcoming months, though. He has no inclination to make an early commitment, and says he could wait all the way until signing day before making a decision.

"Right now I'm planning on taking as much time as possible," Watkins said. "I've already told a lot of other people that if I get picked for one of the all-star, All-American games I'd try and do it then, so I could bring my defensive line coach as a token of gratitude – I've been with him since seventh grade. If I haven't decided then, I might just wait until signing day."

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