QUENSHAUN WATSON, 5-9, 175 RB ATHENS, GA. [CLARKE CENTRAL HS]
Ratings: Rivals 3* running back, Scout 3* No. 105 running back, ESPN 3* No. 51 running back, 247 3*. Chose UT over Indiana.
STRENGTHS: Elite-level speed the Vols don't have much of, Watson runs in the 4.4s and showed an actual ability to carry the load and run some between the tackles as a high school senior. He isn't shy to touch the ball 20-plus times a game, and though UT probably won't ever need Watson to do that, showing that he can is a high mark on his toughness. I think a strength is UT coaches obviously have seen him a lot. He has camped in Knoxville, and coaches also saw some of his games while scouting current Vol Alan Posey.
NEEDS WORK: He could be bulkier, and a college weight program would help him to be able to sustain durability in the SEC. Obviously, there weren't many suitors for him which makes you wonder if he's a bit under the radar. Any bulk would likely worry the Vols, who don't want him to lose a step and offered him because he's the type of player not currently on the roster. Being able to run off-tackle and stretch plays are something UT has been missing and an element Watson could give if he learns the offense.
CREDENTIALS: After an awesome junior season that saw him run for 1,388 yards and 23 touchdowns, Watson improved on that as a senior, finishing with 1,760 yards and 26 scores. Blazing fast, he owns a 10.58 in the 100 meter and will compete for state titles in the 100 and 200 meter races as well as the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays. He also averaged more than 8 ypc in high school and proved he can tote the rock numerous times throughout the game without getting injured.
OPTIMISTIC CEILING: Some might view Watson as a questionable take given his slim offer sheet, but Rivals confessed to not having any film on him and that's why he wasn't ranked until after his senior season when he was awarded three stars. I am not one of those people. Watson offers what the Vols don't have -- speed. He and Alton Howard are blazers, and Daniel Gray is, too. He was also a kick and punt returner in high school, and he has the jitterbug-quick cutting ability that the Vols haven't had in years. He isn't quite as big, but his burst reminds me of Charlie Garner, and I think he'll be a home-run player for the Vols who, while he won't need to be an every-down back, can be a game-changer with his speed.