August 20, 2008

Florida linebacker names top two

Eric Watts is getting his travel plans set for this fall.

The three-star outside linebacker from Jacksonville (Wolfson), Fla., has two official visits already set, but there's another trip that he wants to take that has quite a bit of his attention these days.

"Ole Miss said they can see me coming in and making an impact as soon as I get there," Watts said Tuesday evening. "They told me that the style that I play fits their style pretty well and I would do great. I'm a speedy-type athlete who can move around and cover well also.

"I'm anxious to see them. I'll be concentrating on the defense and the coaching calls. Do they blitz a lot? What formation do they run? What kind of linebackers do they play? Are they mobile? Can they drop back and cover running backs? I want to see stuff like that."

Watts, a 6-foot, 195-pounder with 4.66-second speed in the 40-yard dash, is visiting Iowa State officially on Sept. 6 when the Cyclones entertain Kent State. He's going to Illinois on Nov. 15 when the Fighting Illini play host to Ohio State. He's planning to take an official visit to Ole Miss for one of the Rebels' seven home games.

He has offers from all three schools.

"Illinois and Ole Miss are the top two so far," Watts said. "They're coming kind of strong and they have my interest. Ole Miss is trying, I guess, to be like Illinois and come after Florida boys with speed, not those big, stocky, guys that can't move. My strength is my ability to run and I can read pretty well."

As for Illinois, Watts said he's familiar with Illini coach Ron Zook from his days at Florida and he was impressed with the Big Ten program's jump to national prominence last season.

"I know they're a pretty uprising school," Watts said. "They're getting a lot of incoming talent and they've got a lot of Florida kids also. They're a pretty straight-forward school. They let you know how it is and how it's going to be. (Ron Zook) recruited a couple of family members and they've told me he's going to take care of you."

Ole Miss, meanwhile, offers a chance to play in the Southeastern Conference and is closer to home. The Rebels have some other things going for them as well.

"They've got a whole new coaching staff and it seems like they're on the rise," Watts said. "It seems like they're trying to recruit a lot of different kind of players and coming in a different way than Ole Miss has been. It seems like they're a pretty good school."

Watts, who is on pace to qualify academically, had 90 tackles and five quarterback sacks as a junior. He said he'd like to have his official visits _ and likely his decision _ out of the way by Christmas so he can focus on his senior basketball season.

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