Barton High football coach Van Paschal on Wednesday went on and on about why he believes Quentin Watson is worthy of a shot at playing football at the collegiate level.
“Quentin is a hard worker,” Paschal told MemphiSport during a telephone interview from Lexa, Arkansas. “He’s an undersized lineman. But that’s not a bad thing. But like I told Quentin, there are places to play if he keeps his nose clean.”
For Watson, who started his final two seasons for Barton, he has gained a keen reputation off the field for being one who is well-disciplined, let alone a kid who is extremely scrupulous of those with whom he affiliates.
Add to the fact that this speedy, 200-pound offensive lineman was an integral part of a Bears squad that advanced to the opening round of the Arkansas Class 3A playoffs this year, and it’s no wonder this 17-year-old, vibrant, scholar athlete hasn’t ruled out continuing his football career when he sets foot on a college campus this fall.
In fact, as Watson tells it, he’s admittedly clinging to lofty hopes of fulfilling such a dream, one he’s had ever since he began playing competitively at the age of seven.
“I am a hard-working athletic player,” said Watson, when asked what is it he’d like for college coaches to know about him. “I don’t mind doing whatever it takes to help the team move forward. I have played numerous positions.”
While starting mostly on offense the past two seasons, Watson assumed the left guard position and also enjoyed quality minutes for the Bears at defensive tackle. Although his undersized frame was among the reasons he went unsigned on National Signing Day earlier this month, Paschal believes the possibility exists that Watson can extend his football career if placed in the right system.
“It’ll be a great thing to see someone give him a shot,” Paschal said of Watson, whom he coached for the past four seasons. “There are different levels of (college) ball, Division I, Division II, and Division III. I’ve learned a lesson that you should never say never. Where Quentin’s going to play, I don’t know. But he’s pretty coachable. Quentin is one of those kids…he sees (trouble) on the street, he’s going to dodge it.”
In addition, it is because of his well-disciplined, bend-but-don’t-break persona on and off the field that many who watched Watson’s maturation process over the years believes college coaches would be doing themselves a disservice if they pass up luring a kid of this caliber to their program.
Credit Watson’s mother, Demetric Johnson, for steadfastly pushing her son virtually daily to maximize his fullest potential.
“I realized (when he was 10 years old) he was passionate and dedicated to football,” Johnson explained. “He played the game anytime he could. He took it seriously, getting up early and going to practice, never missing practice, taking leadership (skills), and watching film after a game to see how he could get better. I watched him grow and develop over the years as a player. He is passionate about football and once something becomes a passion, you tend to excel. So, yes I believe he can go far.”
Still, the only reasonable strategy moving forward, Johnson said, is to devise ways to ensure her son lands at a college where he will have the golden opportunity of putting his skills on display.
After all, like his high school coach, she insists all isn’t lost for a kid whom many believed was overlooked by scouts and college coaches long before National Signing Day earlier this month.
“The sky is the limit for my son because he has a passion for the game,” Johnson said. “He is a dedicated player who takes his job on the field seriously but not too much that he loses sight to have fun playing the game as well. I have no doubt if this is what he wants, he can and he will conquer it.”
Just as he’s done for the past four years on and off the field — a trend Watson hopes some college coach recognizes soon.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.