Friday, December 31, 2010

the recruit: David Watford

Name: David Watford
Position: QB
Hometown: Hampton
School: Hampton
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 180

ESPN: 76; three stars; #58 QB
Rivals: 5.5; three stars; VA #19
Scout: three stars; #70 QB

Other offers: Virginia Tech, West Virginia

This was a pretty frenetic summer for recruiting. In less than forty days and forty nights - June and July - twelve high school players committed to Mike London, ballooning the class from seven to nineteen. Most of them were players on the public radar, so July was a good time for feeling awfully optimistic about London's ability to reel in his targets.

David Watford was the exclamation point: a quarterback will always set off paroxysms of excitement no matter what the fanbase, especially if said quarterback is also targeted by one's rival, especially since this is the Virginia fanbase that has a slightly-overdeveloped predilection for running quarterbacks. Watford is all of the above, and he committed on the same day that two of VT's other primary targets announced their decision for North Carolina. So July 10 was a good day for sticking it to Tech.

Watford is one of two recruits who'll enroll early, which is an undeniable benefit but one that shouldn't be taken as a yellow brick road to the two-deep, as we saw with Michael Strauss this season. This is sort of a recurring theme: Watford is a lot of things that are legitimately exciting (a terrific scholar, for one), but not exactly to a transcendental degree. He is, for example, the first Hampton Crabber to pick UVA since his cousin Marques Hagans (you might remember him a little bit) in 2001. This is unlikely to be of great import for the future; Hagans was himself the first Crabber since who knows when to choose UVA, and that didn't exactly start a pipeline either.

The offense Watford runs at Hampton is a little bit limiting. Like Anthony Harris at LC Bird, Watford passed only about 10-12 times per game, resulting in undistinguished passing stats. Harris, though, was sort of a handoff robot; Watford runs the offense like a quarterback, just, one who runs the ball himself at least as often as he throws it. To his credit, he threw no interceptions at all this year, but that's at least partly an artifact of a system that calls a pass as a surprise rather than a staple.

Despite the limitations, the ratings services are all in agreement as to Watford's talents. Therein lies the death knell of the idea that Watford can compete to start in 2011: he'd have to physically dominate Ross Metheny, Mike Rocco, and Strauss in order to get the nod, because he's a year behind in the system. If he had that kind of physical talent he wouldn't be a unanimous mid-three-star. But as a running quarterback, he's got something to separate himself from the pack. (Assuming Miles Gooch ends up not a quarterback, which, probably.) That puts him in prime position to compete, and that competition will be best understood by knowing what Watford is and what he isn't. Isn't: a threat to show up on the two-deep in 2011, and an anointed heir-apparent. There's simply too much to learn of the demands of the college game and an offense that passes more than once or twice a drive. But, Watford is: a legitimate competitor for the quarterback job once he gets his feet underneath him, and that's regardless of the incumbent.

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