It’s been an exciting summer so far for Dixon High School senior Josh Watkins. Last weekend, Watkins visited University of Nevada-Reno to participate in a football training camp that impressed the UNR coaches enough to spark an interest in recruiting him to play Wolf Pack football.
But Watkins is keeping his options open. On Monday, Watkins visited Sacramento State University and up next for him is a visit to Humbolt State University Friday and to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo in July.
For Watkins, the excitement of having the opportunity to play Division One football, not far from his Dixon home, is second only to the anticipation of the fall football season at Dixon High School.
“The class of 2013, I feel like we have a lot of big-size people and then the class under me, that is going to join us in varsity, has a lot of speed so I think if you put those together that’s going to make a good combination,” Watkins said.
He stands at 6 feet 4 inches, and can bench press 320 pounds, currently holding the school’s record for bench pressing. Watkins is a mountain of a teenager, who is soft-spoken and polite, but at the same time enjoys hitting opposing players on the field.
Watkins journey on the football field began with Dixon Youth Football, where he played for two years in the Junior Midgets division. The teenager became a DHS Ram during his freshmen year and started out as a center and defensive tackle.
His coaches over at DHS noticed that they could utilize Watkins’ size and speed to intimidate opposing offenses and moved him over to tackle and defensive end.
“He’s physical, he’s got the size and the strength that’s going to make him a very, very good football player in the next two years,” Dixon Coach Wes Besseghini said. “He’s really put in the time and I’ve just seen him grow. Josh has been a great kid, just really hard working really turned it on a lot this off season.”
Coach Besseghini has been instrumental in helping Watkins achieve his dream of attending a good college and playing football.
“He’s been a big help actually,” Watkins said. “He’s contacted a lot of colleges and sent my DVD of my highlights out. And just getting my name out there.”
Watkins currently weighs 255 pounds, but has a goal of weighing 275 by the end of his freshmen year at DHS. In order for the weight he plans to put on to be healthy, he works out an hour-and-a-half to two-hours a day, six days a week at Core Fitness in Dixon, he said.
“Most days for like six days out of the week, I do weight training and then I’ll usually do one speed and agility day,” Watkins said. “A lot of it is preparing for football camps. I’m trying to get stronger and bigger at the same time I’m still trying to prepare for the camps .”
But Watkins is not just focused on football. He plans to pursue a major in criminal justice or psychology where he chooses to attend school.
For now, it’s all about working out, preparing for the upcoming season and attempting to beat rivals Vanden High School and securing a Golden Empire League Championship.
"We are immensly proud of Josh and what his future looks like," said Watkins' mother, Sandy. "This outcome is the result of many, many years every day of excercising the muscles in the gym and the brain in the classroom and tons of food! We have had another older son who we are proud of play for D3 in Oregon two years ago until he had his second knee injury in season which cut his football career short. So to have another son play at a college just solidifies the fact that with determination and hard work any kid can play in college no matter of his size. Size only detirmines the Division you play for, but good grades get you everywhere. Today with tuition so high however it is to Josh's advantage to use his assets which are good grades and a great body suited for D1 and the willingness to play football in order to get that education and hopefully a scholarship to go with it."
The Rams have been weightlifting throughout the summer, said Coach Besseghini, and begin training on August 6.
“I’m really just excited,” he said. “I think we should really have a good year this year.”