East St. Louis (Ill.) High linebacker Kyron Watson has always been focused.
Good student, check.
Great citizen, check.
Tireless worker when it comes to athletics, check.
The youngest of six kids and the first in his family on track to go to college, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Watson has something making him even more focused.
Watson has a little girl on the way.
“I wasn’t really scared,” Watson said. Little Ky’rah is expected to arrive on Aug. 9, just in time to see her Daddy have a big senior season. “I just knew I had to step up to the plate. Everything is serious now. It makes me go harder in the weight room. It makes me take practices harder. I want to be better than I am now. I want to be the best at what I’m doing.”
Being the best at what he’s doing in turn will be the best for his family and daughter.
“I have to make sure I get her up out of here,” Watson said. “East St. Louis is not where it’s at right now. Everybody in my family wants me to do something. They don’t want me to go down the wrong path. Everyone wants me to do better than they did. I’ve just been trying to do everything to make everyone proud.”
Michigan and Kansas, Watson’s top two schools, definitely like what they’ve seen. Ranked by the 247Composite as the nation’s No. 28 outside linebacker, Watson was also offered a scholarship by Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Syracuse and TCU.
“I never thought I’d be talking to college coaches and be the guy everybody is talking about,” Watson said.
Right when the recruiting process began to take off was just about the same time his girlfriend of two years Tiarra Cobb told him they were expecting. Watson’s mother Renita Denzmore was less than thrilled at first.
“Oh she was mad about it for a good week or two, but then she said it’s time for me to be a man now,” Watson said. “She had to get over it. Everything happened kind of fast. Recruiting was just getting started and she didn’t want me to mess up nothing. She said she’d help me do what I have to do.”
Watson doesn’t want to go too far for school, somewhere within an eight-hour drive. He has Cobb’s blessing to go wherever he wants as long as he gets that degree.
“She said she just hopes I do something and that I go far and make something of myself and get an education wherever I go,” Watson said.
That’s definitely the plan and Watson’s father Edward has provided strong advice as well.
“He was just like make sure you go harder in everything you can do, be the best you can be at whatever,” Watson said.
Growing up, Watson was the chubby kid that was bigger than most of his peers. He played on the offensive line in youth football and says he wasn’t even sure he was going to play high school football.
“I was really focused on academics,” Watson said.
However, he couldn’t ignore the itch to pad up and bang around.
Watson grew taller and went from 175 pounds as a freshman, to 195 pounds as a sophomore, to 205 pounds this past fall. He’s now at 225 pounds, a weight the East St. Louis coaching staff would like to see Watson hold. His strength has also gone up tremendously, turning what was a 145-pound bench press max as a freshman into a 300-pound max now.
“He’s a coach’s dream,” East St. Louis assistant Harith Mitchom said.
“He’s a very mild-mannered young man. Never got into trouble, sticks to himself, a quiet individual in the classroom that turns into a different person when he touches the field. He has great family support and has always been into academics. He works hard on everything he does and it shows in his leadership.”
Nominated to be a team captain as a senior, Watson would like to make his college decision before the start of his senior season so he can focus on East St. Louis football.
Michigan is in the driver’s seat for Watson’s signature and he’s very excited to visit Ann Arbor for the first time on May 20. He’s been keeping in touch with the Wolverines staff since landing his scholarship on April 9.
“That was a big deal for me,” Watson stated. “I’ve always been watching Michigan since I was a young lad and I know they produce good linebackers. Michigan, that’s just a big program. They’re big on everything, academic wise and football wise.
“Everything stands out about Michigan. I know they have a great coaching staff. Everyone wants to get better and I like to compete. Michigan is going to compete in everything, Big Ten and National Championships. I just like Michigan a lot right now.”
Watson visited Kansas for the Jayhawks spring game on April 13 and he has a very close relationship with his recruiter Reggie Mitchell.
“The thing that brings me towards Kansas is Reggie Mitchell,” Watson said. “I can just trust that guy. I have trust in him and I know he’ll take care of me if I go to school there. That’s a big part of what I’m trying to do, have trust in the coaches and if I go to Kansas, I know I can trust Coach Reggie and he’ll make sure I’m good at Kansas.”
Wherever Watson goes, he’s happy he’s making everyone in his family and community proud, especially his mother.
“I knew my son was going to be something,” Denzmore said. “Waking up in the middle of the night and doing his homework. Doing well in sports. He’s really doing well.”