Tre Watson Officially Named Cal’s Defensive Backs Coach

Adding former UNLV assistant completes Justin Wilcox's Golden Bears' football staff
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Justin Wilcox completed his Cal football coaching staff by hiring UNLV assistant Tre Watson as the Bears' new defensive backs coach, Cal announced Friday.

Watson will replace Marcel Yates, who left Cal to become the defensive backs coach at Oregon.

"Tre is one the nation's top young coaches and rising fast in our profession," Wilcox said in a statement provided by Cal. "He brings a high level of energy and enthusiasm to the table. Tre has always impressed me with his work ethic, knowledge of the game and tremendous attitude ever since we coached him at Washington. He developed an excellent rapport with the student-athletes he worked with at Oregon and UNLV over the last three seasons, and he took advantage of a great opportunity he had to work closely with coach Heyward at Oregon. That helped him lay an excellent foundation for his coaching career."

"I want to thank God for this opportunity," Watson said in another statement from Cal. "I have learned and grown a lot from the places I have been, and I'm very excited to be a part of this family, join a terrific staff and represent a program that is on its way up under great leadership from coach Wilcox. Go Bears!"

Watson issued his farewell to UNLV via Twitter on Friday:

The hiring of Watson was the last of three assistant coaches and a strength coach who had to be replaced by Wilcox. Keith Heyward was hired as outside linebackers coach to replace Tim DeRuyter, who left Cal to become Oregon's offensive coordinator.  A week ago, Cal hired Geep Chryst as its tight ends coach to replace Marques Tuiasosopo, who left Cal to become Rice's offensive coordinator.  Brian Johnson was named Cal's new strength and conditioning coach after Torre Becton left Cal to become the strength and conditioning coach at Texas.

Cal's new defensive backs coach has the same name as former Cal running back Tre Watson, who later transferred to Texas, but it is not the same person, nor are the two related.

The Tre Watson being added to the Cal staff came to Washington as a walk-on player when Wilcox was the Huskies defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013. Keith Heyward and Peter Sirmon were also on the Huskies coaching staff at the time.

Watson was a defensive graduate assistant at Oregon and 2018 and 2019 when Heyward was the Ducks defensive backs coach.

In 2020, Watson moved on to UNLV where he was the defensive backs coach, working primarily with cornerbacks.

A Las Vegas Sun story in October 2020 called 29-year-old Watson "one of football's rising coaching stars."

A September 2020 report by 247 Sports included Watson in a story about the top 30 rising coaching stars under the age of 30.

It said this about Watson:

Watson spent the last two years as a graduate assistant at Oregon, where he worked with the defensive backs, many of which are likely to be drafted come 2021. Sources around that program say Watson made a huge impact in that room. Watson played the final season of his playing career at Washington, earning a scholarship as a walk-on after transferring from Central Washington. Watson moved to UNLV with former Ducks defensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo.

Watson's Coaching History

Season: Team (League) – Coaching Position (Postseason)

2018: Oregon (NCAA Division I FBS) – Graduate Assistant, Defense

2019: Oregon (NCAA Division I FBS) – Graduate Assistant, Defense

2020: UNLV (NCAA Division I FBS) – Defensive Backs


Birthdate: May 17, 1991

Hometown: Seattle, WA

High School: Kennedy HS

College: Washington, 2013, BA, Communication

Family: Wife – Taryn


Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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