Anthony Cook. Kenyatta Watson II. BJ Foster.
With the two early enrollees flanking the Loganville (Ga.) Grayson target on his official visit last weekend hours before his commitment to the Texas Longhorns, fans got a vision of what the secondary could look like in the years to come.
And that picture was just a small snapshot of the talent that head coach Tom Herman and Todd Orlando have assembled in recent months in an effort to revive DBU.
Tuesday’s addition of Kenyatta Watson II, who is ranked as a cornerback and also plays some safety for Grayson, is the first of the 2019 recruiting class after several in-state misses. Watson’s willingness to come in and compete for playing time with members of the 2018 class already making a mark on campus illustrates Watson’s high-level competitiveness and receptivity to the recruiting pitches from Herman, Orlando, and cornerbacks coach Jason Washington.
As a prospect, Watson was until recently ranked as a top-10 safety nationally, but in a deep cornerback class, he’s not quite as highly considered. However, the more important consideration is that Watson recently recorded the best SPARQ ranking for any cornerback in the country when he ran a 4.50 40-yard dash, a 4.12 shuttle, and a 45.2-inch vertical leap.
In other words, he’s one of the top athletes in the secondary in the country.
At 6’2 and 187 pounds, Watson is tall for the position and has plenty of length to match up with opposing wide receivers. And though he is a long, lean player, he’s at a weight where he could compete in college and looks like a college player through his upper body.
Since Grayson plays multiple positions in the secondary for Grayson, he projects at either position in college, though he’s probably an outside cornerback rather than a nickel back. In his limited film, he seems comfortable playing zone coverage with his eyes on the cornerback, but he’s also improved his press coverage technique recently and has the physical tools to become an excellent player in that facet of the game.
Watson’s build makes it a little bit difficult to have an impact as a striker like Foster — he’s got a high center of gravity and a thin lower body, but he should improve in that area as he works with Texas strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight.
The bottom line is that Watson has rare physical tools in height, length, and athleticism, with an excellent baseline of ability. Washington has a reputation for getting the most out of his cornerbacks and if that’s the case with Watson, then he’s going to do big things for the Longhorns.