Not what he had in mind

Ben Watson

ATHENS -- This is not the senior season Ben Watson imagined when he decided to put off the NFL one more year and return to Georgia.

The Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1 SEC) are ranked No. 4 in the country and have a shot to repeat as SEC Champions, so there's that, but the massive tight end hasn't been as much a part of it as he had hoped. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Rock Hill, S.C., native sprained his ankle two weeks before the season-opener. He has missed the Middle Tennessee State and LSU games and was severely limited against Alabama.

"It's been up and down," Watson said. "I was (depressed) at first, and I still wish I could have played those games, but it's something I can't control."

Things seem to be looking up, at least. Two weeks ago, Watson had just two catches for 25 yards. In the last two games, he has eight catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. He led the Bulldogs with five receptions for 51 yards against Tennessee.

"I'm getting back in the flow of things," he said. "It just worked out that it was my chance to step up (against Tennessee)."

Tight ends coach David Johnson says he expects Watson's contributions to increase now that his rhythm has returned.

"A couple of weeks ago, he was a little slow coming out of his breaks," Johnson said. "Now he's going in full speed and coming out full speed. Now it's just a matter of getting out there and getting the reps and getting more and more confident."

Watson is still trying to make the best of things. He bought a video camera before the season and is making a video diary of his senior season, filming everything from media sessions to 5 a.m. random drug tests. And, he's not worrying about what this slowly starting season is doing to his NFL prospects, he said.

Watson's teammates and coaches say they've seen no signs that he's worrying more about his earning power than his playing time.

"He's a competitor, and I think he wants to play," Johnson said.

"He's done a good job fighting back," quarterback David Greene said.

Last winter, Watson announced he was leaving Georgia for the NFL, but he changed his mind two days later. He said analysts told him then he could be selected anywhere from the first to the fourth round, and he's still a top prospect. According to the NFL Draft Insiders, he is still the #2 ranked Tight end prospect in next year's draft.

The Scouting report reads: "Great athlete developing into a complete tight end. Strong at the point blocking and makes plays down the field as a receiver. Not used much in the passing game, which is a shame." Watson's ankle injury will raise some questions come draft time.

Watson said he'll answer the pro scouts questions later. "There's question marks about everybody," he said. "I'm not worried about the NFL right now. I'm just worried about the time I have left at Georgia."

Name: Ben Watson
Position: Tight end
Size/class: 6-3, 255 pounds/Senior
Major: Finance
High School: Northwestern High School (Rock Hill, S.C.)
High School honors: Named "Student of the Year" and all-state as senior ... Caught 31 passes for 515 yards as senior ... Helped lead team to state title as junior.
College stats: 52 catches for 645 yards and five touchdowns in two-plus seasons in Athens ... Has eight catches for 92 yards in last two games.
FYI: Transfer from Duke ... Already has Finance degree and is taking masters-level course this semester ... Strongest player team with 565-pound bench press, 605-pound squat and 330-pound power clean.

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