Watkins decides on App. State

Feb. 07, 2013 @ 07:28 AM

After receiving looks from the likes of Elon, East Carolina, Western Carolina, North Carolina A&T and Coastal Carolina, East Rutherford standout T.J. Watkins accepted a preferred walk-on role with the Appalachian State Mountaineers Wednesday afternoon.

Watkins decided on Appalachian after visiting Boone this past weekend.

“When I went down there I felt like an alumni, they treated me like I was already there,” Watkins said. “They took me in the locker room, facilities, the lunch room, dorms...it felt like home.”

“It’s awesome. He’s really blessed,” Watkins’ mother

Gloria Watkins said at the signing table. “I always tell him to put things in the hands of the “man above” and he will always succeed.”

“I always told him to keep working hard and it would pay off someday, and here it is,” said Watkins’ father, James.

The dominant theme of the signing wasn’t Watkins’ outstanding athletic ability, but his character.

“Good things happen to good kids. He’s a tremendous athlete but an even better person,” East head football coach Clint Bland of Watkins. “I’m going to miss him. He’s one of my favorites. It’ll be a sad day when he graduates.”

“I’m proud about the student and the person he is in the hall as much as I am with

his athletic ability,” East Principal Brad Teague added. “The way he carries himself is what sets him apart.”

Watkins, who threw for 15 touchdowns and ran for eight more in 2012 as the Cavaliers quarterback, will likely move to receiver at the college level.

“He has more athletic ability than probably half the kids already up there on the team,” Bland said of Watkins. “He’s going to go up there, work hard and I think he’ll see the field fairly soon. I think when they learn that they can throw a 5-yard pass to him or a quick screen and turns into 30 yards or a touchdown they’ll get the ball to him a lot. He’s got all the tools to do great things.”

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Watkins realizes that he’ll have to continue his hard work to set himself apart at the next level.

“I just know I have to work harder now at the next level in order to try and make it to the level after that,” Watkins said. “I think I’ll be alright. I just need to work hard and learn from the other players.”

“Even though I jump on him sometimes and ring his neck, it’s no secret, he has the ability to be better than anyone on the field,” Bland added. “He’s got all the ability in the world to step out there as a freshman.”

As Watkins makes the trip up the mountain in the summer, he’ll be making the trek as more than just a football player.

“First we want him to graduate college. Football is secondary and just the icing on the cake,” Bland said. “If he can step up, do good things and get stronger you might see him on Sundays some day. It’s in his hands.”