Walk-on CB Tre Watson earns opportunity

SEATTLE -- When the ball was snapped, Kasen Williams sprinted down the field. The sophomore receiver tried to shake walk-on cornerback Tre Watson.

He couldn’t.

When the pass sailed toward a receiver on the other side of the field, Watson made sure Williams understood what happened.

“You should know better than that,” Watson said.

As Washington works through its second week of fall camp, Watson is doing everything he can to prove he belongs on the field. Through eight days of practice, he is one of three players -- Greg Ducre and Marcus Peters are the other two -- fighting for a starting spot opposite senior corner Desmond Trufant.

The chance to earn an opportunity with the Huskies is something Watson has worked for since he graduated from Burien (Wash.) Kennedy Catholic. After stops at West Hills College in Coalinga, Calif. and Central Washington University, Watson is right where he always expected to be -- making plays as a Division-I cornerback.

“Every day he makes a play,” Williams said.

After being limited by shoulder injuries during both his junior and senior seasons in high school, Watson didn’t get recruited as heavily as he hoped.

“He didn’t get recruited the way I thought he should have,” said Kennedy Catholic coach Bob Bourgette. “He always thought he was a Division-I player and so did I.”

Watson played in 10 games at West Hills College as a freshman before starting 10 of 11 games the next season for Central Washington.

Two years into his college career, Watson still wanted to prove he was a Division I-caliber corner. So he transferred to Washington as a walk-on.

“It was more me wanting to see my opportunity to play at the next level,” Watson said. “I felt like I was in a situation where I had a good experience at Central, but I wanted to take that next step, so that’s why I made the decision.”

After sitting out the 2011 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Watson was impressive during spring practices. All that is left for him is to secure a starting spot.

“He fits in great,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “He’s just got such a knack for the football.”

He also carries the confidence to compete against anyone at any time.

“You can’t come out here and not have confidence,” Williams said. “You’re going to get abused if you don’t. Every time he comes out here, he has the confidence that he’s going to dominate."

But, while his expectation is to earn a starting spot in 2012, he points all praise toward other players.

When asked about making plays throughout fall camp, he said he was simply in the right place at the right time. He added that the pressure provided by the defensive line makes his job easy.

Ever since he stepped on campus, Watson said he has felt like part of the program.

“They’ve shown me the reins,” he said. “They’ve told me, ‘If you’re going to be here, you’re going to be able to contribute.’ ”

Watching from a distance, Watson’s success is enough to bring tears to Bourgette’s eyes. The longtime high school coach said Watson is “like a son” and uses him as an example for the players on the Lancers’ roster.

The more plays Watson makes, the closer he gets to a starting spot -- the closer he gets to a scholarship.

Watson, though, isn’t worried about the future. He is making sure highly-touted teammates like Williams know it’s not going to be easy when they line up on Watson’s side of the field.

“That’s not something I’m really focusing on right now,” Watson said. “I’m more focusing on the aspect of preparing for San Diego State. A scholarship will come when it’s supposed to come.”