Monday, May 6, 2013
Four-star ATH commits with midnight text
By Jared Shanker
Heath Watkins woke up Sunday morning in his hotel room and decided to take a quick look at his phone. He saw a message from his son Dareian Watkins, sent at 12:15 a.m.
Usually a text that late would bring concern to a parent, but the moment could not have been a happier one for both father and son. The four-star Galion (Ohio) High School athlete was committing to Northwestern.
“He spent the night with the players Saturday night and I woke up and had a text at 12:15 that said ‘Dad, I know where I want to go to school,’ ” Heath said. “I wish he would have texted me a little sooner than 15 minutes past midnight, so I didn’t get to congratulate him until the next morning.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Watkins told his family he would not be committing on his Northwestern visit, instead pushing his decision date back even further. He originally wanted to commit May 1 but decided to wait following late offers from Penn State and Wisconsin.
There was not much of a reason for Watkins to wait any longer, however. He visited Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin three times each. He took trips to several other schools, too.
What sealed the deal was Watkins’ overnight stay with his future teammates Saturday.
“He kept stressing to me when the kids are together, you wouldn’t know who’s a walk-on and who’s on scholarship,” Heath said. “They treat each other with the same respect.”
“… From a football standpoint, we talked about that this morning. Everybody is very familiar with the wonderful academic opportunities, but they undervalue the football opportunity.”
Watkins’ parents did not push for anyone school, but they asked Dareian choose a school that would set him up for life and not one that would set him up for football.
“I think he did that,” Heath said. “It was everything we hoped for Dareian.”
Heath and his wife adopted Watkins at age 11 after Watkins was a victim of child abuse. From where their relationship started to where Watkins is now, Heath said he cannot help but get emotional when he thinks about how far his son has come.
“When we told Coach Fitz, it was overwhelmingly emotional for me,” Heath said. “From the time he was 11 we dreamed about the opportunities he’s getting right now. I can’t allow myself to think about how far he’s come or I’ll get emotional.”
Watkins is the second highest-rated commitment in the Wildcats’ 2014 class. With seven commitments in the fold already, Pat Fitzgerald is putting together what could be Northwestern’s best recruiting class in school history.