Photos special to Bison Illustrated
Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program. The Bison football team is no exception with its melting pot of talent that arrives in Fargo from across America. It’s this fusion of skill and personality that makes the NDSU football locker room as attractive as any in the country for aspiring Division I football players from Florida, California and everywhere in between. Eight current members of the Bison tell their stories of how they landed in Fargo and one future Bison explains his reasoning behind picking the Herd.
Recruiting Coordinator: Atif Austin
Year: Redshirt freshman
Position: Wide receiver
Hometown: Tampa, Fla.
High School: Plant High School
How He Got Here
In the world of college football recruiting, it pays to get in early on a potential star. Atif Austin traveled to Plant High School in Tampa, Florida, to watch practice of a team that consistently produces Division I talent. It was raining and a junior wide receiver by the name of Christian Watson was catching everything. A conversation about him coming to Fargo began.
While Watson had his eyes on bigger FBS programs, he noticed NDSU was always playing for a championship on ESPN. Not only were they bringing home rings, they were beating some of the FBS teams Watson had his sights on.
“He ended up coming down a couple times throughout the weeks, that was during the spring going into my senior year,” Watson said of Austin.
NDSU extended a scholarship offer to Watson June 1. By late July, he verbally committed. But schools were still coming after the services of the 6-foot-3-inch wide receiver.
“Once I committed, I pretty much said, I’m 110 percent committed,” Watson said. “I let my coach handle everything else. He just told everybody else, he’s 100 percent committed. I didn’t stay in contact with many schools after that.”
Watson said it was great to watch his older brother go through the process four years earlier. Tre Watson graduated from Illinois last year and was a grad transfer recruit for NDSU this fall. Ultimately, the older Watson decided to continue his career at Maryland.
“I came up here for my official in November to the Youngstown State game (in 2016). It was great to see everything, and the new weight room was being built in the SHAC. It wasn’t done yet, but it was crazy to see a FCS caliber school that can have a weight room like this and all the stuff we have.”
Recruiting His Brother
“It would have been great to have him come here and play, obviously, playing with my big brother, but I know he has plans for himself and his own mind. This is the place for me, I know that for sure.”
Battle Through Injury
“I’ve been playing on that (knee) injury for like a year so I got that checked out this winter and I had surgery and I can’t walk for six weeks. I’m out for the spring. I’ll be back well before fall camp begins.”