Going up against the Florida State Seminoles for Sunshine State prospects is not an easy task for the Texas Longhorns, even in the best of times, but it appears that head coach Tom Herman and running backs coach Stan Drayton are doing exactly that with Ocala athlete Justin Watkins.
The dynamic 6’0, 165-pounder committed to the ‘Noles last June at a camp, but his “biggest offer” came when Drayton extended one from the ‘Horns one month ago.
On Sunday, Watkins put his upcoming visit to Austin into perspective:
Justin Watkins tells me FSU hasn't been showing him as much love. Believes he would start Day 1 at Texas, where he is visiting next week.— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) February 19, 2017
Considering that Watkins is the No. 1 athlete in the country, it’s surprising that Florida State is letting his recruitment slide in that sense, but it also could speak to the recruiting job that Texas is doing right now.
In fact, Watkins could end up being the first early success story for Stan Drayton nationally in his return to a state where he recruited extremely well while working for Urban Meyer at Florida.
With verified 4.46 speed in the 40-yard dash, Watkins played running back and some wide receiver for Citra North Marion before transferring to Vanguard.
In college, he projects as a Curtis Samuel type who can work from the slot, threaten the perimeter with jet sweeps, and line up in the backfield at times to run plays like outside zone.
And so while the comment from Watkins about the Seminoles not showing much love is important, the fact that Herman is successfully selling him on early playing time could be the key to his recruitment by the Longhorns.
As a result, there have been seven flip predictions put in for Watkins to Texas in his 247Sports Crystal Ball, including one from Elliott on Sunday after speaking with the nation’s No. 1 athlete.
Elliott covers recruiting nationally for SBNation.com, but also runs Tomahawk Nation and has deep ties in the state of Florida so he’s as plugged in to Watkins’ recruitment as anyone.
Here’s more from Elliott, from the comments section:
He’s a nice kid, who definitely loves the attention. I asked him why he thinks he will start on Day 1, and he told me that the coaches told him that. I asked which coach, and he said all of the ones he speaks with. He said that if he commits, he will be the only slot Texas takes, and he will also be the punt returner and play some running back as well.
In listening to his comments, I felt like I was listening to Urban Meyer recruit kids to the "Percy position" from 2006-10 at Florida. Selling early playing time is something you have to do as a new coach, and it gets tougher as things get more established.
When Watkins visits Austin, he may not exactly be on commitment watch, but his surging interest in Texas is currently one of the biggest storylines as 2018 recruiting gets under way in earnest.
A consensus four-star prospect, Watkins is the No. 39 player nationally and the No. 9 player in Florida, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.