The class of 2014 grew rapidly in the last three days, as Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson of Elkton, Maryland both committed to Michigan before Ohio linebacker Michael Furbush pulled the trigger. Canteen and Furbush aren't exactly national prospects, yet they were both scouted and recruited far more than under-the-radar Watson.
Watson and Canteen both attend Eastern Christian Academy, an online academy that seems designed for athletes; the vast majority of the school is made up of males and football players. This might seem a bit shady, but fear not, as ECA as put more than fifteen kids through to college football and seems legitimate. Both Watson and Canteen will come in meeting academic requirements like every other scholarship athlete on campus.
Watson's recruitment was obviously quiet. He actually held an impressive short list of offers for such a little-known defensive back: Boston College, Connecticut, Rutgers and Temple all extended offers his way before he camped at Michigan, where an outstanding showing in individual drills earned him an offer that would end his recruitment not long after.
It's not hard to see why the coaches would offer Watson right off the hoof if he flew through footwork and ball skill drills, as Watson is one of the more muscular backs that I've seen in this class. Standing at 5'11", 185 pounds, Watson already has the strength to deal with most receivers at the next level. His reported height is anywhere from 6'1" to 5'11"; 5'11" seems like the most accurate number in this case. That makes Watson field corner or nickel-sized, and I can see him making a contribution at both positions since he has the build to deal with running backs in the nickel spot.
The only real way to find any scouting information on Watson was to scour each of his major recruiting profiles for stories; there is no film available on the kid whatsoever (I may have linked to a Hudl page once, but that wasn't even the right Brandon Watson). He performed admirably at a Pennsylvania Swag 7-on-7 tournament:
2) CB Brandon Watson - Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian
While most knew about Watson heading into the weekend, nobody expected the show that he put on. The 6-foot-0, 187-pounds cornerback rarely got beat and won the matchup against Godwin in the semi-finals. He displayed terrific ball skills, great speed and excellent footwork. Watson holds offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Temple and Rutgers with heavy interest coming from Syracuse and Maryland.
The aforementioned Chris Godwin is a four-star wide receiver and was the only player ranked ahead of Watson, who outperformed four-star Ohio State lean Curtis Samuel at the camp, as well as sever other players holding BCS offers.
His coach knew about the skill of Watson long before anyone else:
However, Thomas believes the two were under-recruited and will excel at Michigan under the tutelage of secondary coach Curt Mallory and wide receiver coach Jeff Hecklinski.
"Freddy Canteen is, in my opinion, the best route-runner in the country. I think every camp that he goes to, people get a chance to find that out," Thomas said. "And Brandon has this unique combination of speed, strength and hip flexibility that will allow him to be physical with the big receivers, and he's agile enough to run and defend the smaller receivers as well."
Watson definitely seems like an average-sized corner with above average strength, making him capable of keeping receivers in check, whether it be from press or off coverage. ECA seems to work on footwork more than your average high school football team, so it wouldn't surprise me if Watson came in with some of the quicker feet in the secondary.
Overall, I think Michigan got a steal. At worst, Watson is a depth corner who can come in and help on special teams and make the occasional play on long downs. At best, he's a guy who will fight for playing time at field corner or at nickel. Don't be surprised if his name gets thrown around when Courtney Avery, Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor leave the program.