Gophers Get Commitment From a Track Star Defensive Back Straight Out of the Louisiana Bayou

Photo: Tariq Watson Twitter (@CantStopTk1)

The Minnesota Gophers football team has had a busy June, flying around the country to take in hundreds of 2022 football recruits, while hosting plenty of kids and camps on the U of M campus as well. Today, they received a commitment from a speedster cornerback out of Louisiana, named Tariq Watson.

Watson hails from Harvey (LA), a suburb that sits across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. His high school (Helen Cox) is literally surrounded by the “Fatma Bayou”. I can’t wait to hear this kid’s accent.

According to 247Sports, Tariq stands at 5’10” and weighs in at 165 pounds. Like many mid-level 2022 prospects, Watson hasn’t gotten the chance to build up his star-rating over the last year, due to COVID restrictions.

He currently holds an 86/100 (3-star) rating by 247Sports but doesn’t have a composite rating, meaning other recruiting sites haven’t scouted him. Tariq’s signature weapon, as previously mentioned, is speed.

Track Star

Lucky for us, 247Sports has also kept track of Tariq Watson’s track career (pun intended), where last month he placed second in the Louisiana 4A state 200 meters and third in the 100 meters. Speed on the track in the spring doesn’t guarantee anything when you step onto the football field, come fall.

But if a defensive back can combine elite speed with a knack for finding the football, good things happen. That’s what PJ Fleck and Co are hoping they’ve found in Watson.

Other Offers/Highlights

As of May 8, Watson didn’t have an offer to play division-I college football. Since then, he’s received power-5 offers from Virginia (May 11), Purdue (May 13), Washington State (June 6) and Minnesota (June 9).

It’s difficult to foresee what will happen with these 2022 recruits, as they enter their senior seasons this fall and scouts from various services get their eyes on them over the next six months. Tariq, however, does seem like a kid who PJ Fleck and his staff will be happy they got in on early.

You always want to take a player’s high school highlight reel with a grain of salt. You’ll always see their best plays and none of their mistakes. But, I do like how Watson repeatedly finds his way to the football and then delivers punishment in his hudl film. An unwillingness to get dirty is difficult to hide, even in a highlight package.

Father’s Day commits piling up

Watson was only the start of what is turning out to be a big morning for PJ Fleck and the Minnesota Gophers. Since writing this blog, they’ve had two more commitments from the southern USA. Rhyland Kelly is another 3-star cornerback (Clearwater, FL) and Aiden Gousby is a 3-star wide receiver (Lehigh Acres, FL).

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan