In his weekly recruiting column, Dudley E. Dawson chats with Florida running back Richard Watson, who took an unofficial visit to Arkansas last month.
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When you have led the SEC in rushing four of the last five years and have the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, it’s really not that hard to get a prep running back’s attention.
That’s why the University of Arkansas is a player in the game for Tallahassee (Fla.) A&M University High School running back Richard Watson (6-1, 220, 4.55), one of the country’s best 2008 prospects.
Arkansas has joined Ohio State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Purdue, Alabama, Arizona State, East Carolina, Marshall and Florida International in already offering Watson.
“When you are running back thinking about schools you might want to go to, Arkansas is definitely one of those that you consider,” Watson said. “They have been leading the SEC– in rushing all these years, have Darren McFadden – who is one of the best backs in the country - and are just one of the best programs in the country.
“Also they offered me during my junior year and that really got my attention,” Watson said. “It showed how much they really want me and what they think about me.”
Watson is coming off a junior season in which he ran for 2,140 yards and 34 touchdowns while leading his team to a state title.
Arkansas is high enough on his list that Watson and his family drove from Tallahassee to Fayetteville for the Razorbacks’ Red-White game on April 15.
Warren, who took an unofficial visit to nearby Florida State this past weekend, came to Arkansas at the invitation of Arkansas assistant coach Chris Vaughn.
“He’s a great guy and he is from Tallahassee, knows a lot of people from here and knows my coach, who has a lot of good things to say about him,” Watson said.
Watson, who bench presses 330 pounds, was impressed with what he saw in Arkansas.
“That was my first time ever in the state of Arkansas,” Watson said. “The city was a real nice place and you can tell the fans all really support the program.
“The campus was beautiful and the football facilities were as good as I have seen anywhere,” Watson added. “The indoor facility is great and the weight room is like the biggest in the country. You can tell from looking at their players that it works for them.”
Watson likes the fact that Arkansas has sent several players on to the NFL – including four draft choices in 2007 - under Houston Nutt and could have both McFadden and Felix Jones taken in the 2008 draft.
“Coach Nutt was just a very easy coach to talk to and someone that I really like and think I would love playing for,” Watson said. “They send a lot of players to the NFL so that gets your attention.”
Watson certainly would remind those who see him of McFadden in physical stature and on the field as well.
“I think my strengths are my size and the speed that I have to go with it,” Watson said. “I think I have real quick feet and great vision. I’d like to keep working on my pass blocking, catching the ball and just getting faster.”
Watson knows that he will definitely go to summer camps at Ohio State and Boston College.
“I would like to go to some more, but we’ll have to see if I will be able to do that with the time and everything,” Watson said.
Watson is in no hurry to make a decision and will analyze the offers that have come in from schools in the SEC, Big 10, ACC and Pac-10 just to name a few conferences.
“I’ve got a lot of opportunities from some great schools in some great conferences,” Watson said. “I consider myself wide open right now and not really favoring anyone right now.
“By the end of the summer I will probably start narrowing it down some, but I just truly have no idea where I might go yet,” Watson added. “I definitely won’t make a decision early and it could be close to signing day before I make up my mind and am absolutely sure where I want to go.”