Zuri Watson is one of the best players from the Tampa, FL area in the Class of 2024.
The 5-foot-3 115-pound Watson, who attends Thurgood Marshall Middle, is a versatile player that plays both sides of the ball as a running back, wide receiver, cornerback and linebacker for the Northeast Bandits organization.
Watson has earned plenty of awards and recognition during his career, such as being selected to the All-Conference team in 2016 and 2017.
Watson is grateful for the opportunity to showcase his skills against some of the best of the best in his league.
“It meant that I was trying my hardest and it paid off. I earned it,” Watson said. “The award means a lot because it says I was one of the best players in the league. It felt really good to be recognized.”
No matter the opponent, on each snap Watson is determined to give it his all.
Watson is going all out.
The motor is always at full throttle whenever Watson steps between the lines.
“My mindset is to score touchdowns and make interceptions,” Watson said. “I want to make a difference by doing all that I can. I want the other team to not get anything easy while I’m out there.”
Watson has great passion and energy whenever he’s on the gridiron. Watson tells why he enjoys the game of football so much.
“Football is a fun sport,” Watson said. “I love the fact that I can play multiple positions and show what I can do in different spots on the field.”
Watson has learned many valuable lessons from playing football that he applies to his everyday life.
The main one is applying perspective to all situations.
“Football has taught me so much,” Watson said. “It’s taught me how important it is to always be self- disciplined. You have to always make sure you’re making the right choices so you can have a bright future.”
Watson recalls his favorite football memory.
“When my team in 2016 went 9-2, because it was the best record I ever had,” Watson said. “I care more about how my team does than any stats I put up. Winning is all that matters to me.”
Ron Hemingway has been coaching Watson for three years with the Northeast Bandits organization.
Hemingway explains the best parts of Watson’s game at each position.
“At cornerback he has raw skills and good instincts. He’s a complete cornerback. His athleticism and high football IQ is the best part of his game no matter where he is at on the field,” Hemingway said. “His technique starts with the way he dissect formations. He understands what could happen before it occurs and he is always in position to make a play.”
Watson takes his role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Watson makes sure he’s a daily positive influence on his peers.
“I try my best to be a good teammate by helping them out at all times with anything they need,” Watson said. “I tell my teammates to how important it is to secure the ball whenever it’s in your hands.”
Hemingway adds that Watson is one of those consummate teammates that every locker room needs to be successful.
“He’s a quiet leader. He leads by example,” Hemingway said. “When it’s teaching time, he’s focused. When it’s time to hustle, he goes hard. And when we need a play, he makes it happen.”
Watson is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.
“My coaches help make me a better player and person,” Watson said. “They tell me to always play hard and never give up. They also tell me that school is important and I need to keep my grades high.”
Hemingway recalls examples of Watson’s capabilities.
“He’s made so many critical plays for us that swung games in our favor,” Hemingway said. “For example, key stops on 4th down, such as locking down a wide receiver on an obvious pass play, forcing fumbles and recovering fumbles.”
In addition to making clutch plays, Watson also has a high level of football IQ as well.
Watson as excellent football awareness that puts him in position to thrive.
“His football IQ is a big factor in the success he has on the field,” Hemingway said. “Such as attacking the ball in the air, knowing who to read in offensive formations or knocking the deep ball down on fourth down rather than intercepting so that we can keep good field position.”
Watson is always on the grind to perfect and hone his craft.
“He works relentlessly in the off season with his dad. He has an excellent work ethic,” Watson said. “Working out at the beach. A lot of speed and agility drills and also speed ladder drills
Hemingway explains why Watson reminds him of this eventual Hall of Fame cornerback.
“He’s a lot like Darrelle Revis,” Hemingway said. “The film doesn’t lie. It’s Zuri Island all day. He’s a baller and makes plays with the same potential body shape.”
Meanwhile, Watson patterns his style of play after this player.
“Le'Veon Bell, because one day I will become a better football player than him,” Watson said.
Watson is constantly striving for greatness in everything that he does.
“On the field my goal is to make plays. Off the field is to make good grades,” Watson said. “I want to make my family proud.”
Watson lists PE as his favorite subject in school.
“Because I get to play the game that I love,” Watson said.
Watson dreams of being the next great player at Clemson.
“I’ve always wanted to play for them,” Watson said.
Hemingway believes the sky is the limit as long as Watson continues to stay hungry.
“He’s not the average kid for his age. God has definitely blessed Zuri. He just has to continue the course,” Hemingway said. “He has what it takes to be successful. Some kids are just blessed and he is one of them.”
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