December 18, 2011

Watkins checks out practice

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Bowl practices have started at Ohio State and in addition to preparing for the Gator Bowl and getting some young players reps, these practices can serve as a valuable recruiting tool. Some of Ohio's top underclassmen were in Columbus on unofficial visits on Saturday morning to check out the bowl practice. Among the visitors was class of 2014 Galion (Ohio) athlete Dareian Watkins. The 6-foot-2, 184-pound prospect has been to Ohio State numerous times over the last few months and was eager to see his first college practice.

"It was a lot of fun," said Watkins. "It was nice to see the difference between a high school practice and a college practice. The biggest change was that there is no down time, it just went from drill to drill to drill. It was all full speed the whole time, so that was a lot different than what I was used to."

Watkins is being recruited as an athlete by most schools but does play quarterback for Galion so with that in mind, he paid extra close attention to that position group on Saturday morning.

"I was watching the quarterbacks," he said. "I was watching Braxton (Miller) a lot. I watched him in the state championship game when he was at Wayne and he's like a total different player now. I think his mechanics have improved and in that game he was more of a runner but now he looks like he's a passer. He's probably my favorite player at Ohio State right now."

While most of the coaching staff was busy running practice, Watkins did talk to a pair of staff member during his time on campus.

"I talked to Mark Pantoni, the new recruiting coordinator and coach (Greg) Gillum," he said. "I already knew coach Gillum but coach Pantoni said it was nice to meet me and he was looking forward to talking to me."

Though still early in the process for Watkins, the talented sophomore had been building a relationship with the previous coaching staff. The hire of Urban Meyer as head coach has done nothing to hurt the Buckeyes in his mind.

"I think it's going to be a turning point in Ohio State's program," he said. "I think it's going to be back to how it was when Jim Tressel was there. Coach Meyer is known for winning and I think he's going to turn the Ohio State program back around. I'm not saying that coach (Luke) Fickell was a bad coach, this year really wasn't his fault, it's just this year wasn't really a good year for Ohio State and I think the next few years are going to be really good for Ohio State."

Watkins enjoyed the practice so much that a second trip down to Columbus may be on the horizon.

"I think we might be going to one more bowl practice (at Ohio State)," he said. "We're leaving next Friday to go to Florida for vacation so I think we're going to get to one more practice before going on vacation."

During the winter, Watkins will put his focus on improving his skills on the football field as he has decided to give up his second sport.

"This is the first year I haven't played basketball," he explained. "I'm just focusing on football. I've had so many ankle injuries in basketball that I don't want to worry about that being a factor. Right now I'm working with a couple of trainers on my speed and strength."

Watkins added that he plans to camp at Ohio State and Georgia Tech in the summer.


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