Tre Watson is atop the depth chart at running back for Texas, and just in time.
Watson’s favorite boyhood team happens to be headed to Austin on Saturday.
“It’s a little bit more personal,” said Watson. “I’m from Southern California. As a little kid I was an SC fan, wore No. 5 because Reggie Bush was my favorite player.”
For the first two weeks of the 2018 football season, Texas employed a running-back-by-committee, distributing carries among its stable ballcarriers. The results have been mixed, with the Longhorns settling for a 1-1 start.
Texas depth chart for the first two games had graduate transfer Watson listed as the “or” starter with true freshman Keaontay Ingram and sophomore Danny Young, the Longhorns’ leading rusher at running back last season.
That changed for this week’s critical game against USC.
Ingram is nursing a knee injury and Young moved to a role as the short-yardage and late-game option. Watson will be the starter against the Trojans when they visit Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday for the first time since 1966.
Texas coach Tom Herman said Monday that Watson has earned the starting nod, and that he feels comfortable with him there.
“Tre’s our starting tailback right now and he’s doing a really good job with that,” Herman said. “Off the field he’s an energetic guy that his new teammates really, really like being around. He does a great job for us. The best thing to say about Tre is his energy on and off the field. He’s got great energy, and great positivity, and when he makes a mistake he owns up to it. He’s really, really energetic and is very positive with his new teammates.”
Watson opened Texas’ preseason camp wearing a non-contact jersey as he continued to work his way back from a knee injury that derailed his senior season at California. He was cleared for full-fledged work two weeks before the season opener and is closer and closer to being the runner the Longhorns expect him to be.
“Texas has done a great job of monitoring my injury,” Watson said. “It took a little bit, but I built confidence and the team built me up. I felt like I was ready to go out there the first week and compete.”
Watson has racked up 120 yards on 30 carries in the first two games and has caught two passes for 17 yards.
–Steve Habel (@SteveHabel), Field Level Media