2014 Prospect Profile: Kyron Watson

Leon Halip

Michigan doesn't have a major need at the inside linebacker position this cycle, but the staff still plans on taking one for depth purposes. Will Kyron Watson be that linebacker? What would he bring to the defense?

Scout: 3-star, #32 OLB
Rivals: 3-star, #19 ILB
247: 3-star, #45 OLB

Breakdown

Watson's tape shows a poor man's James Ross. Currently standing at 6'0", 220 pounds, Watson is the same type of wrecking ball inside linebacker that Ross was coming out of high school. Ross had to add ten or fifteen pounds when he arrived in Ann Arbor, and Watson will most likely end up doing the same thing. Why isn't he rated as highly as Ross was? There are a few reasons for this. First, Watson doesn't have nearly as much experience shedding blocks and diagnosing run plays as Ross did; most of Kyron's highlight tape is him running straight to a ball carrier before bringing the pain. He has also been playing linebacker for all of a year; he played fullback his sophomore year before putting on some weight:

"He is a fast learner," Mitchom says. "He wasn't necessarily a big kid coming in, so sophomore year, we had him playing fullback just to get him acclimated with the contact. Junior year was really his first year playing linebacker. He's always been an aggressive kid. Towards the end of year, he began to understand it and blew up in terms of physical contact and meeting them in the hole. He's a special kid. As he grew, the impact of hips became a little more damaging. He came in at like 160-165-pounds. He's 220 now. In two years, he gained basically 60 pounds."

Whether or not Watson can shed blocks like Ross remains a mystery, but we know that he has above average burst to the ball. The most impressive part of his game might be his tackling: Kyron wraps up on nearly every tackle, and he lowers his shoulder every time he gets the opportunity. This is promising, but the lack of film of him shedding blocks is still concerning. He has serviceable but not great ability in the open field.

Lastly, Watson could turn out to be the next Kenny Demens in pass coverage. He makes a handful of plays in the passing game on tape, and he also showed out well at this weekend's Nike Football Training Camp:

Kyron Watson is a physical player better suited for a game in pads, however on this day he was able to frustrate running backs by getting them off their route. He also had several bat downs.

Overall, Watson is a run-stuffing wrecking ball who could develop into a starting MIKE or WILL linebacker somewhere down the road. He's a slightly less athletic, less experienced version of James Ross.

Recruitment

Kyron's offer sheet is good but not great. Michigan, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan State, Missouri, Purdue and TCU stand out among his other offers. He took unofficial visits to Illinois, Missouri and Kansas before becoming seriously involved with Michigan. He received his Michigan offer on April 9th and hasn't been shy about who his leader is ever since:

Michigan is in the driver's seat for Watson's signature and he's very excited to visit Ann Arbor for the first time on May 20. He's been keeping in touch with the Wolverines staff since landing his scholarship on April 9.

"That was a big deal for me," Watson stated. "I've always been watching Michigan since I was a young lad and I know they produce good linebackers. Michigan, that's just a big program. They're big on everything, academic wise and football wise.

"Everything stands out about Michigan. I know they have a great coaching staff. Everyone wants to get better and I like to compete. Michigan is going to compete in everything, Big Ten and National Championships. I just like Michigan a lot right now."

He took to Twitter to show his love for the Wolverines as well:

The visit on May 20th could, or should, be his last visit of the process.

Prognostication

Michigan all the way. Kansas and Illinois look like the only legitimate competition, and something tells me that Greg Mattison won't be losing that battle. Michigan is Watson's strongest offer in both football and academics, and it doesn't look like any notable suitors will be stepping up before he pulls the trigger. I will be surprised if he isn't committed by the end of his visit on May 20th.

Watson will most likely end up being the final linebacker in what should be a relatively small 2014 class. Chase Winovich might be able to slide in if he wants to, simply because Michigan is thin at the SAM spot, but he's a heavy Buckeye lean. Your 2014 linebacker class will probably consist of SAM Michael Ferns and WILL/MIKE Kyron Watson.

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