National signing day is closing in fast for the Illinois Fighting Illini football team, and it’s time to highlight one of the future Illini that will be signing on the dotted line this February 5th. He’s ready, and so are we.
— The Jäger (@ILL_Tre33) January 16, 2014
For those who aren’t familiar, Tre Watson is 6’2”, 230 pound linebacker from Tampa Catholic who verbally committed to Illinois on December 15, 2013. He holds a 2 star ranking from Rivals, and a 3 star ranking from both scout.com and 247sports.com.
Recently, Watson showcased his abilities in the Blue-Grey All-American Game in Tampa, FL at Raymond James Stadium, and his play earned him Defensive MVP honors. He intercepted 1 pass, and also recovered 1 fumble. Both plays led to touchdowns for the South squad as they completed the improbable comeback from a 34-7 halftime deficit, and 41-27 4th quarter deficit, to win the game 47-44 in double OT. Without Watson’s defensive contributions it’s very possible this game never comes back within reach for the South squad.
Here is video of the incredibly athletic snare over the middle on the interception.
After the play, the announcers spoke a little about Watson. Apparently, Watson also got time at Tight End so the color commentator didn’t seem too surprised by Watson’s ability to make that type of play. Regardless, it was a nice snag on a high toss that breathed life back into to the South squad as they trailed 34-7 at that point in the game.
Illinois hasn’t been the recipient of very many turnovers in the past couple of years. So, mixing in a player with this type of ability in the middle of the field will be a nice asset for the Illinois defense heading into the future.
Lastly, here’s a chance to hear the well-spoken Watson discuss his plays in the game and what it means to play in this type of game with the sideline reporter in an in game interview.
With Jonathan Brown exiting the program, Illinois is going to need playmakers at the linebacker position, and if Watson’s performance in the Blue-Grey Game is any indicator of the type of player he is going to become then Illinois has done very well in trying to fill the gaping roster spot left by Brown’s departure.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.