Deiontae Watts had to step away from the game of football at Plano East High School in Plano, Texas. This was for good reason. Off the field, academically, his grades weren’t where they needed to be and his mother decided it was time for him to step away from the team to get them in order.
“The toughest thing I’ve ever overcome would be me having to quit football to bring my grades up and I had to leave the team. That really put a hurt on me because I didn’t really feel like doing that and it was the best thing for me,” Watts said.
Plano East High’s defensive line coach Nathan Collins made it his mission to get Deiontae Watts back on the team.
“He had a good freshman year on JV and that spring in between freshman and sophomore year, he was a varsity starter. …He struggled with grades there early on as an underclassman and his mom pulled him out of football his sophomore year. The rest of the season, the winter, spring, the summer and maybe a third of the way into this past season, his junior year, it was all about getting him back,” Collins said. “Home visits, calls, text messages, I mean just a ton of work and his mom finally let him come back. They struggled financially a little bit so I think for the family it was logical. Coach is saying you have an opportunity, let’s let you go play.”
Deiontae Watts had a relationship with coach Collins thanks to his brother Corey Watts who also played high school football at Plano East. Unfortunately, a series of non-football related medical issues prevented him from continuing a football career in college and beyond.
Collins describes Deionte Watts as rapper Eminem’s character, Jimmy “B-Rabbit,” Smith in “8 Mile,” where like Smith, people would tell Deiontae Watts he’s great at this or that and he’s going to do great things in his future. Both guys always remained humble despite the accolades and praise. Collins said it didn’t really click for Watts until he was an upperclassman. He got more and more attention and also was sitting in front of Oklahoma Sooner’s football coach Bob Stoops and other coaches of big name programs.
From Watts’ perspective, he knew he could make something happen with football when he made a big play in his first varsity football game.
“It was probably my first varsity game. When coach Collins put me in he was like ‘let’s see what you got,’ and I was able to handle it. I went into the game and dominated the offensive line and in that first varsity game, I made a tackle while getting double teamed and coach was like ‘do you realize I have never seen anyone do that before?’ That’s when I realized I could play this game,” Watts said.
The biggest thing for Watts now is academics. For the future, grades cannot be an issue if he wants to see playing time and stay on the field for whichever football program he decides to play for.
The six-foot-three, 302 pound, Plano, Texas native, has 17 total offers from Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, UCLA, USC, Ole Miss and more. According to the 247Sports Composite, he is a top-50 player in Texas and top-25 defensive tackle in the 2017 recruiting class. For the 2015 season, in five games, he recorded 17 tackles, five sacks, and 11 quarterback pressures. See his highlight film here.
“Texas A&M, Oklahoma, USC, Nebraska and there are some other ones I’m going to start throwing in there but those are the main ones that I have figured out,” Watts said about the schools he has high interest in right now.
He said that the recruiting process has been good for him so far and he’s been talking with Alabama to see if he can pick up a scholarship offer from them.
He plans to make his commitment decision sometime before National Signing Day (February 1, 2017). He still has official visits to take.
“Against the running game and pressuring quarterbacks. I feel like I’m pretty good at stopping the run because I feel like if I get a hold of you, you’re kind of done,” Watts said about what he’s best at doing on the field.
“I truly believe his upside, he hasn’t even hit that yet. The video you see out there right now, you have to keep in mind that that’s fresh off the couch. No summer workouts, no spring ball, no winter offseason,” Collins said. “He hadn’t touched a weight since he left as a sophomore so he’s just raw, playing really tall at times but this is his first offseason since [the time] in between his freshman and sophomore year. His tape of his senior year is going to be ridiculous. He’s got like 18 offers now, he’ll be a 40 offer kid by the time he’s done here.”
Heisman Trophy Finalists Include Joe Burrow, Justin fields, Jalen Hurts, Chase Young
The finalists for the Heisman Trophy have been unveiled and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and defensive end Chase Young are headed to New York this weekend for the 85th edition of the award for the most outstanding college football player.
The winner will be announced on Saturday night during a ceremony that kicks off at 8pm est on ESPN.
“In my opinion, he should win it,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said, according to ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura. “In my opinion, he’s going to win it. The best thing about Joe is he’s a team player. All he wants to do is win this game. Individual awards are not high on his list. That’s what makes him such a great team player.”
While Burrow may have the most momentum heading into the ceremony, and is the likely number 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Young is the first Ohio State defensive player to finish in the top four in Heisman voting, and Young is the first defensive player from the Big Ten to do so since Michigan’s Charles Woodson won the award all the back in 1997.
Young led the nation with 16.5 sacks and in tackles for loss per game with 1.9.
Additionally, Ohio State is the seventh school to have multiple players invited to the Heisman ceremony in the same year, but the first to have both an offensive player and a defensive player.
Rutgers Brings Back Greg Schiano with Eight-Year, $32 Million Deal
Rutgers is bringing back Greg Schiano as their head coach following a lengthy negotiation process that has led to an eight-year, $32 million deal, according to ESPN.
“Today we open the next great chapter for Rutgers Football,” Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said. “Coach Schiano is absolutely the best person to lead our program. He brings a quality of leadership and integrity that will make all of us proud in the years ahead. I couldn’t be more excited for our student-athletes and our fans.
“A lot of hard work lies ahead, but we will all keep chopping together with Coach to achieve success in the Big Ten. We all know what the goal is and we all must do our part. I can’t express enough appreciation to Greg and Christy Schiano, the first family of Rutgers Football. Welcome back!”
Schiano went 68-67 from 2001-2011 as Rutgers head coach.
“Rutgers University and this football program have meant the world to me and my family,” Schiano said in a statement put out by the school. “I arrived here in 2000 with the goal to build a program that would be a source of pride for the state of New Jersey and develop great young men. I look forward to embracing that challenge once again. This is a great opportunity for all of Rutgers to pull together to get us back to where we all know we belong. It will take everyone on this campus and in the State of Rutgers to get this done.”
Schiano left Rutgers in 2012 to become the head coach of the Tamp Bay Buccaneers, in a tenure that lasted just two years.
“I commend Rutgers Athletics Director Pat Hobbs and Coach Schiano for reaching an agreement following very complex negotiations to bring on this new, exciting chapter for Rutgers Athletics,” Rutgers President Robert Barchi said. “We are all thrilled to welcome Coach Schiano. He is the right coach at the right time to build our Big Ten football program into a long-running source of pride for Rutgers.”
Ole Miss Fires Matt Luke
Ole Miss is moving on from head coach Matt Luke, who was fired on Sunday following three seasons at the helm of the Rebels.
“After evaluating the overall trajectory of our football program, we did not see enough momentum on the field and determined a change is necessary in order for our student-athletes to compete at the highest level” Athletics director Keith Carter said in an official statement.
“While improvements were evident in certain aspects of the program, we are judged ultimately by our record, and, unfortunately, we did not meet the standard of success that we expect from our program. We will always be grateful to Coach Luke for his leadership, particularly from a recruiting, academic and overall culture standpoint. At the same time, winning is important, and we know that we can compete for championships at Ole Miss.
“A search is underway to find a new head coach who can build a complete program that attracts top talent, develops them as young men and sustains a winning mentality. We will be looking for the leadership, energy and commitment to excellence necessary to compete in the Southeastern Conference and galvanize our passionate fan base.”
Luke compiled a 15-21 record during his tenure at Ole Miss.
According to the Clarion Ledger’s Nick Suss, the firing of Luke was not well-received by some of the players, with some storming out of the team meeting angry over the decision.
Many are speculating that the Egg Bowl was what set the firing in motion. However, it is worth noting that attendance was becoming an issue in the midst of a losing season, and with a new athletic director in the fold, change was likely coming sooner or later.
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