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USF a possible landing spot for former Illinois, TC linebacker Tre Watson

Former Illinois and Tampa Catholic linebacker Tre Watson will play his final college season elsewhere as a graduate transfer.
Former Illinois linebacker Tre Watson (33) announced Monday he'll play his final season elsewhere as a graduate-transfer. (Michael Hickey | Getty Images)
Former Illinois linebacker Tre Watson (33) announced Monday he'll play his final season elsewhere as a graduate-transfer. (Michael Hickey | Getty Images)
Published Nov. 28, 2017

Hours after announcing Monday that he'll play his final college season elsewhere as a graduate transfer, former Illinois and Tampa Catholic LB Tre Watson indicated USF is a possible future destination.

Watson, who totaled 35 tackles for the Illini this past season, later tweeted a release signed by Illinois assistant athletic director Christopher Byron, granting other NCAA institutions permission to contact Watson about a possible transfer.

"I am considering any program where I can come right in and be that impact linebacker, win football games, and be supported by a coaching staff who believes in me and has my back," Watson said in a direct message Monday evening. "In doing so I'll be able to contribute to a team competing for championships.

If USF fits the bill, then they will be certainly be considered. I know the caliber of season they just had and I have the utmost respect for Coach (Charlie) Strong and their staff."

A three-star recruit and first-team Class 3A all-state pick in 2013, Watson enjoyed his best collegiate season in 2016, when he tied for the Big Ten lead in tackles in conference games (93) and became only the third Illini underclassman since 2000 to finish with 100 or more tackles (102).

His best game that year: 16 tackles in a 31-27 victory against Michigan State.

USF will enter the season with some serious depth concerns at linebacker. All-time leading tackler Auggie Sanchez and backup WLB Devon Jones-Stewart play their final college game in the Bulls' bowl contest, and backup MLB Danny Thomas was dismissed for an unspecified violation of team rules earlier this season.

Promising redshirt freshman Andre Polk Jr. returns after missing nearly the entire 2017 season with a knee injury.