Deon Watson finds himself in a dilemma he didn’t expect to face when he entered high school four years ago.
The son of the former University of Idaho basketball standout by the same name, Watson figured basketball would be his ticket to college. It was in the genes, after all.
Fast forward to Watson’s senior year at Coeur d’Alene and he has offers from Washington State and Idaho to play football, but he doesn’t have anything firm in basketball.
So instead of giving an oral commitment to one of the schools to play football, Watson is playing a waiting game and keeping his options open. Granted, he wouldn’t mind playing football in college. But he’s not likely to make a decision until January.
To CdA football coach Shawn Amos, it’s obvious what the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Watson should do. Amos started telling Watson when he was a sophomore that his future was in football, not basketball.
“I put a lot of trust in Amos,” Watson said. “He’s a guy who will tell you straight up. So when he told me my future is football, it meant a lot to me.”
To CdA basketball coach Kent Leiss, it’s obvious what Watson should pursue. Leiss said if NCAA Division I scholarships for both sports were dangled in front of Watson, he is convinced Watson would pick the round ball over the oblong one.
Watson would like to play basketball because, over time, it takes less of a toll on a body.
Watson is the first on his father’s side to play football. His father, at 6-foot-8, was a standout player at Idaho (1990-94) when he set the career rebounding record (877) that still stands. He ranks second all-time in blocked shots (131).
Football was in the blood on his mother’s side. Anna Watson, whose maiden name is Hegbloom, grew up in a football-playing family in Mullan. They were also a tough-minded family of hard-rock miners.
Deon Watson knows he inherited those traits from his mom.
Off the football field, Watson is a mild mannered, reserved, humble young man. Put him between the white lines and something dramatic changes in his personality.
“It’s a chance to express feelings I can’t express when I’m at home or at school,” Watson said. “The aggressive part of me definitely comes out.”
WSU is recruiting Watson to play outside linebacker. Idaho wants him at tight end.
“Scoring touchdowns is always fun – who doesn’t like to score?” Watson said. “There’s a certain amount of aggressiveness I like about defense. If I had to choose one, it would be defense.”
He’s a two-way starter for the defending state champ and undefeated Vikings (6-0) – at wide receiver and defensive end.
“He could play almost any position,” Amos said. “He’s been very productive. And he’s a tremendous blocker.”
Watson is second on the team in receptions and one of quarterback Chad Chalich’s favorite receivers. He’ll finish his career with about 90 receptions.
In basketball, Watson, who has started on varsity since his freshman season, has 844 points. Leiss is switching Watson to point guard this year because he lacks true guards.
“He’s got good court vision,” Leiss said. “He’ll be tough to deal with at the point. He’s unselfish.”
“I’m excited about it because I’ve played like a point guard most of my life,” Watson said.
Watson led a young CdA basketball team to state last year where it took third. With most of the nucleus returning, Watson has his eyes set on a state title.
Watson is a solid student as well. The importance of education is something his parents have drilled into him.
“A lot of parents threaten to take away their kids’ phones or other objects,” Watson said. “With me, it’s always been my sports. My mom would never be afraid to tell me I can’t play in a game if I wasn’t doing my work. She’s taught me to work for what I get, that nothing comes free. That’s more from the Hegbloom side of her. They were miners and they’re not afraid to work hard.”
Watson is excited about a possible state title repeat in football.
“We have a great group of seniors,” Watson said. “There’s no other way to describe it. We’re winners. We do what it takes, that’s how we were raised. We have a lot of respect for last year’s seniors, but we think this year’s team is better than last year’s team.”
He enjoys the camaraderie that is afforded in football.
“The chemistry with teammates, it’s something I don’t think you can experience in other sports,” Watson said. “In football, you have to put aside personal agendas for the good of the team.”