It appears that the graduate transfer market has just provided the Texas Longhorns with their next starting running back.
After taking his various visits throughout the recent weeks, including a trip to the Forty Acres for the spring game, Cal graduate transfer running back Tre Watson announced his commitment to Texas on Sunday, choosing the Longhorns over in-conference foe Texas Tech.
LSU was also a major factor in Watson’s recruitment, although he cut the Bayou Bengals from consideration last week.
A likely day-one contributor, Watson entered his junior campaign as part of the Doak Walker Award Watch list, but just two games into the 2017 slate, Watson suffered a season-ending knee injury. His 2016 effort, however, provides evidence of why Watson was such a key grad transfer target for the Longhorns.
As a sophomore, Watson totaled 709 yards and four touchdowns on 143 carries, and proved to be a weapon out of the backfield as a receiver, as well, hauling in 21 receptions for 241 yards and another four touchdowns. Such efforts would have quite easily headlined the Longhorns backfield in 2017, as Daniel Young, Kyle Porter and Toneil Carter combined for just 886 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Although reports have praised the progress Young and Carter have made as spring came to a close, it’s also been noted that Texas is still without a solidified starter at the position — so much so that incoming All-American freshman Keaontay Ingram is expected to compete for significant playing time.
It’s now appears as if that role is Watson’s to lose, as he’s set to join a Texas backfield in which he’ll serve as the most proven and experienced ball-carrier among the bunch.
Watson’s 1,380 career rushing yards is nearly 300 yards more than Porter, Young and Carter have collectively compiled throughout their careers (1,091), and he’s done so on just 11 more carries.
Although he doesn’t project as an every down feature back, at the very least, Watson looks to be the Longhorns likely primary option at running back and should provide the versatility and ability to make defenders miss that Texas lacked last season.
That, alone, should allow the Longhorns offense to open up elsewhere, which would be nothing short of a significant step for Tim Beck’s unit after a porous 2017. If that proves to be the case, then Watson’s presence and importance simply can’t be overstated.