Cornerback Tre Watson bidding for time as walk-on with Huskies
After transferring from Central Washington and sitting out last fall, former Kennedy High player Tre Watson is working his way up the depth chart.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington cornerback Tre Watson took the long way home.
And while he seems on the way to proving that the journey might have been unnecessary, he says he doesn't regret it.
Watson, a walk-on junior for the Huskies called by coach Steve Sarkisian one of the breakout players of the spring, is a graduate of Kennedy High who had few offers after his senior season in 2008.
So he attended West Hills College in Coalinga, Calif., before transferring to Central Washington, where he started in 2010.
Watson was on the move again, taking a stab at his dream by transferring to UW as a walk-on.
"I had a good experience at Central," he said. "It was just me wanting to see what my opportunity was to play at the next level."
And there was never a doubt where he would take that shot.
"I knew I wanted to come back to UW," he said. "This was home. I grew up here. This is where I wanted to play."
Watson sat out last year as a transfer (using his redshirt season), but even on the scout team he opened eyes with his consistent playmaking ability. He has continued that play this spring, working his way into the team's rotation at cornerback. Senior Desmond Trufant appears entrenched as one starter and junior Greg Ducre and redshirt freshman Marcus Peters are also competing for a starting role. Watson, though, has done enough this spring to merit playing time, Sarkisian said Wednesday.
"Last season as a scout-team player, he had the same type of playmaking ability, but you never know (for sure)," he said. "Sometimes it's easier on the scout team (when) there's no consequences for getting beat deep — it's practice ... you can get that mentality. But he's carried that over ... he's had a great offseason.
"He's worked extremely hard and he's been like a sponge in understanding the defense. You're seeing his versatility; he does it in the slot, he does it outside when he's outside, he does it when he's pressuring — he just has a nice feel for the game. In turn, he's playing with a great deal of confidence right now, which is allowing him to make plays."
Some players might hear those words and feel some vindication for being overlooked. Sarkisian admits that UW thought about offering Watson for the Class of 2009 (Sarkisian arrived in December 2008) but that "we ended up not going on him."
Watson says his journey back to Seattle makes sense.
"I needed to go that route just for me personally to transition and grow up and be able to be in this moment," he said.
Watson was a Seattle Times all-state pick as a senior in 2008 as a running back, scoring 35 touchdowns for Kennedy, where he also played defensive back alongside Nolan Washington, now at Washington State and whom Watson said is "my best friend."
Watson said the Cougars, Idaho State and Montana State recruited him.
"It was more so a lot of talk and then at the last minute offers being pulled off the table," he said. "But I feel like everything happens for a reason and eventually I got here."
After deciding to leave Central, he approached UW coaches about becoming a Husky.
"I think he realized that maybe he was a better player than people gave him credit for," Sarkisian said.
Sarkisian said he thinks Watson, listed at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, has been helped by the changes in the team's defensive schemes, which will call for more one-on-one coverage.
"I think the style of play in which our defense plays and our coverage and our matching of routes and things really fits to Tre's style," Sarkisian said. "He's a heady football player, he understands things that are coming — he reads routes, he reads splits. And he believes in himself in that when he knows, he goes. And that's allowed him to make quite a few plays this spring ball because he's in the right place, he's using the right technique and he's got the right sense about him to go make plays, and it's been showing up almost daily here in spring ball."
For now, Watson remains a walk-on. He said he's not worried about whether a scholarship will come.
He just wants that first moment on the field.
"Oh man, just running out in my jersey while I was redshirting — just the atmosphere has been crazy," he said. "So it's going to be exciting."
• Center Drew Schaefer, out for a few practices with a sprained knee, is back and worked in full pads with the No. 1 offense.
That gives the Huskies nine available offensive linemen.
Despite the return of Schaefer and a few other players,
Sarkisian said the Huskies will modify the rules for Saturday's Spring Game, which begins at 1 p.m. at CenturyLink Field and is free.
Instead of splitting the squad into two teams, Sarkisian said the offense will face the defense. The offense will be awarded points in the normal fashion. The defense will get three points for a series stop, five for a turnover and seven for a touchdown.
• The Huskies received a commitment for the Class of 2013 from defensive linemen Jaimie Bryant of Tumwater High. The 6-5, 275-pounder visited a UW practice earlier this month and according to Tumwater coach Sid Otton has long wanted to attend UW. He was getting interest from the likes of Oregon, WSU and Nebraska, as well, but Otton said "he just didn't want to mess around anymore" and gave the word to the Huskies on Wednesday. He is UW's second commit for the Class of 2013 joining Lakes High receiver Sammie Long.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com. On Twitter @bcondotta.