Tampa Catholic linebacker Tre Watson is getting bigger to go along with big numbers. • The numbers strain credulity, those 161 tackles and 16.5 sacks that Watson tallied in 12 games last fall. • But the Crusaders invite you to watch his highlight film, ask one of the coaches, or better yet, ask him yourself.
“And we didn’t even get the film for the second half of the Berkeley Prep game, so we missed some there,” Watson said.
Watson was one of the state’s leaders in tackles and sacks as a junior, which has earned him the attention of several college programs this offseason. He holds scholarship offers from USF, UCF, Air Force and Eastern Michigan and is generating interest from a number of other FBS programs.
His work in the classroom — 31 on the ACT — has also made him a candidate for a number of Ivy League schools.
And while Watson has benefitted from the presence of four-star teammates T.J. Harrell and Corey Martinez, the rising senior is becoming a top recruit in his own right. Since the end of the season, Watson has grown an inch and a half to 6-foot-2 and added 15 to 20 pounds to weigh in at 220 pounds.
“He’s a special kid,” first-year head coach Mike Gregory said. “When schools come out here and see him run around, it’s really opened a lot of eyes.”
If Watson and his teammates are as good as advertised, Tampa Catholic should be a top contender for a state championship. Which means more college recruiters and, hard as it seems to believe, even more tackles and sacks for Watson.
“Obviously, you want to get better,” Watson said. “And we’re looking to go to state, so add on those three games and I could definitely be able to get those numbers up there.”
Injuries won’t force Chiefs to downsize
As a result of having three rising senior linemen on the shelf concurrently, Chamberlain second-year coach D.J. Mayo has discovered two potentially daunting tackles — one a behemoth, the other a basketball player.
Rising junior Tyrell Reed (6-4, 345 pounds), whom Mayo essentially ran off last year due to a lack of effort, has astounded his coach this spring while logging reps at right tackle.
On the left side is 6-6, 212-pound rising senior Fitzroy Hector, a starter on the Chiefs’ district championship basketball team.
Hector, who hasn’t played football since his freshman year, said he came out this spring not only with basketball coach Christopher Snyder’s blessing, but at his behest. “He made me do this,” Hector said.
“He and Reed are projects,” said Mayo, who led the Chiefs to a 4-6 mark in Year 1 after the program went 1-9 the year before. “We definitely need those guys to come through and I believe they will. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Meantime, Mayo said he’s hopeful of having senior Dajshon Oliver (6-4, 275) and classmate Colton Caldwell (6-1, 250) cleared next month after rehabbing a torn labrum and torn ACL, respectively. The status of 230-pound senior Wade Gunter (broken leg) remains unclear.
Even if two of those three return, Mayo said he possesses the girth up front to employ his trademark power run game. “We’re still at a talent deficit; we just don’t have the numbers,” he said. “But we are going to be good.”
Tee time for Bucs
The first local spring contest will be staged Thursday in St. Petersburg, when Berkeley Prep travels to Admiral Farragut for a 7 p.m. game. Most of Hillsborough County’s other schools compete a week from Thursday. Here are this week’s games:
Thursday: Berkeley Prep at Admiral Farragut, 7
Saturday: Carrollwood Day at Bishop McLaughlin, 7
Compiled by staff writers Joel Anderson and Joey Knight.