by Chris Johnson (@ChrisDJohnsonn)
As 2014 WR Dareian Watkins mulls his recruitment, Galion (Ohio) high school teammate LaCario Davison is clear on his intentions.
“I am dead set on Northwestern,” Davison said. “I want to play football there.”
Last weekend, Northwestern hosted several top targets in the class of 2014. Watkins, along with linebacker Tori Millender, wide receiver Cameron Polk, tight end/wide receiver Ian Bunting and running back Justin Jackson, stayed overnight on campus. Watkins had nothing but positive takeaways from his visit, and even mentioned the possibility of a return trip.
"I'm definitely glad I went," Watkins said of his visit last week.
High school connections have been known to influence recruitments from time to time; players feel a level of comfort with the knowledge that a former teammate will be there to ease his transition process. Brother-to-brother ties can be even more effective in luring recruits to a given school. Watkins’ connection to Davison falls somewhere in between.
Biologically, Watkins and Davison are not related. But if you ask Davison, the Watkins family has taken him in as one of their own. He refers to Watkins as his “brother,” Watkins’ three sisters as his own “siblings” and Watkins’ biological parents as “parents.”
After growing up in what he called a “bad part” of Columbus with his mother and six siblings, Davison moved in with Watkins last season. He cited academics and an adverse environment, at school and at home, as the main reasons behind his decision.
“I just thought I might fall in with the wrong crowd,” Davison said of his decision to leave Walnut Ridge High School and enroll at Galion, where he plays safety and wide receiver alongside Watkins. “There were a lot of fights. It just wasn’t a great situation. I needed a better school.”
Recruiting, academics and college football are frequent topics of discussion in the Watkins household. Davison and Watkins have picked each other’s brains about potential school choices plenty of times before, and anytime the subject comes up, Davison does not hesitate to plead his case on behalf of Northwestern.
“The coaching staff was excellent. The environment was cool. All the players treat each other with respect,” he said. “After my visit, I’m pretty sure I want to go there.”
If one half of the Watkins duo is resolute in his college search, the other is not far off. That’s the impression you get after hearing general descriptions of Watkins’ attitude towards Davison’s Wildcats enthusiasm. The two are not inseparably tied in their eventual commitments; Davison maintains he will choose “what’s best for me.”
But Davison didn't mince words: the ideal scenario is for Watkins to commit to Northwestern. Davison said he would follow suit without hesitation.
“We’ve talked about going to the same school together, and we agree it’s [going to Northwestern] is a good deal,” Davison said. “He’s going to choose whatever school he likes.”
On last correspondence, Watkins laid out his options. His top five schools, in no particular order, are as follows: Northwestern, Louisville, Michigan State, Indiana and Illinois. Of the five, Watkins gave no clear indication as to which school (s) he currently holds in highest regard. Davison isn’t wavering – without yet having received a scholarship offer, the 2015 believes Northwestern is his future home, early as it may be in his recruitment.
And he believes Watkins might be leaning the same way.
Asked whether he believes Watkins may eventually commit to the Wildcats, Davison conjectured, “I think there’s a great chance. I’d say it’s [Northwestern] is probably in his top two”
This summer, Davison plans to attend a summer workout in Evanston, where he hopes Northwestern coaches will offer him a scholarship. He has been contacted by a number of high major programs, including Michigan, Michigan State and West Virginia. The growing interest has not swayed Davison’s opinion. His future plans are striped with purple paint.
In the meantime, Watkins plans to make a decision in the coming months, the hope being his choice is finalized by mid-summer.
A promising duo of prospects living under the same household, separated by one year and at least a few degrees of certainty, have taken a strong interest in Northwestern’s rising football program. Their attendance is not certain, nor is it a two-for-one proposition.
This much is clear: Davison wouldn’t reject the latter.