Florida Gators 2021 Recruiting Recap: How Does Desmond Watson Fit?
The Florida Gators added a big, powerful and athletic defensive lineman to their defensive line last week in defensive tackle Desmond Watson (Armwood, Tampa (Fla.) after he verbally committed, but how does he fit within their class, and what does the commit do to the overall future roster?
Taking a look at the current verbal commitments the Gators have for their 2021 recruiting class, it is easy to see where Watson fits.
Along the defensive line, the Gators currently have verbal commitments from four defensive linemen including Watson: Defensive end Tyreak Sapp (St. Thomas Aquinas, Ft. Lauderdale Fla.), DE Justus Boone (Sumter - Sumter, SC.), Watson and DT Christopher Thomas (Dunbar - Fort Myers, Fla).
All four players offer differing levels of playstyles, Sapp and Boone offer versatility, the ability to play inside and out, however primarily at the team's strong-side defensive end position. Thomas offers strength and pad level at three-technique at 6-foot-6, 290 pounds with quickness to boot.
Watson almost perfectly rounds out the group, becoming the largest commit of the class at 6-foot-5, 350 pounds. While he is not likely to maintain that weight as a Gator, he could re-distribute it as such not to lose much, if any, strength while adding more explosiveness and speed to his game. As a true nose tackle, Watson will be able to effortlessly take on double teams, freeing up his fellow defensive linemen.
There's a reason why Gators' assistant director of player personnel and defensive line recruiting coach, David Cooper, was so excited to land the big man last week.
With the direction of Cooper and defensive line coach David Turner, the team's future along the defensive line appears bright. Lost in the defensive line additions from this year's class are the additions that will pair well with then in the 2020 recruiting class. This includes consensus five-star defensive tackle Gervon Dexter who is sure to make an impact early in his Florida tenure.
Dexter along with DE Antwaun Powell (Indian River, Chesapeake, Va.), Princely Umanmielen (Manor, Manor, Tx.) and defensive tackles Lamar Goods (St. Thomas More, Oakdale, Conn.) and Jalen Lee (Live Oak, Watson, La.), make up the rest of the team's defensive line signees heading into 2020.
For the Gators, their depth along the defensive line, specifically the interior, is surely to get a closer look after this season. Along with Elijah Conliffe, who is no longer with the football program, Florida is expected to lose redshirt senior Marlon Dunlap Jr., senior Tedarrell Slaton and potentially redshirt junior Zachary Carter following the season. All three play a major role inside for the Gators, and without them, they'll need young players to step up to the plate.
While Watson is a fantastic get for the Gators, it doesn't mean they're done.
A perfect player to pair with Watson could come in the former of Miami Palmetto (Miami, Fla.) defensive tackle Leonard Taylor. As a pass-rushing defensive tackle, Taylor could be the yin to Watson's yang. The two would be able to win most matchups at the point of attack due to their size along with breaking down the quarterback's pocket.
A Sports Illustrated All-American candidate, Watson brings plenty to the table, and SIAA gave a succinct breakdown of his bottom line, here:
If Watson can get down to 315 pounds you’re going to have a three-year starter and impact player on the power-5 level. He’s so strong that it’s almost unfair on the high school level. Until then, he’s an elite two-down run stopper and offensive line occupier.
Want more Florida Gators content from Sports Illustrated? Subscribe to AllGators by clicking "Follow" on the top right corner of this page.