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Vikings QB Watson making a name for himself
East Hall junior enjoying breakout season
East Hall quarterback Devin Watson.

East Hall junior Devin Watson knows he’s not going to be the first “D. Watson” most people think of when the topic of Hall County quarterbacks comes up.

That’s to be expected when you share a similar name, a county and a position on the football field with one of the top high school signal callers in the nation — Gainesville High senior Deshaun Watson.

“(People) ask me if I’m related to him and I’m like, ‘Yeah, he’s my cousin,’ but Deshaun is Deshaun, he’s national Elite 11,” Devin Watson said.

“I look up to him. I’m just trying to do my own thing.”

Devin Watson isn’t thinking about state passing records or a future in the NFL, and with only two starts as East Hall’s full-time quarterback under his belt, he’s just now starting to put himself on the radar of college recruiters.

What he has done in the early stages of the 2013 season is show that he’s a talented player in his own right.

Watson completed 22 of 30 passing attempts for 294 yards and two touchdowns and added 92 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground in the Vikings’ 48-12 victory over Chattooga on Friday night.

For his efforts, Watson is The Times’ Football Player of the Week.

“He’s really worked hard on his throwing motion, setting his feet and reading the defense (instead of) just trying to throw the deep ball all the time, which is his natural instinct,” East Hall coach Bryan Gray said. “Once he learned to read the short routes and let the offense do the work, he’s really started to blossom into a pretty darn good quarterback.”

Watson’s performance against Chattooga followed his strong Week 1 effort against Dawson County. He tallied 235 passing yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score in a narrow 29-27 loss to the Tigers, who blew out the Vikings 42-0 a year earlier.

Although it’s still early, the Vikings appear to be legitimate contenders for their first playoff appearance since 2005, which was also the last time the team posted a winning record.

“Right now it’s like a new beginning,” Watson said. “We’re doing a lot of new things. We’ve got a new (strategy on) offense, we’ve got a new logo and it’s like a fresh start.

“Coach Gray...started to believe in us before we started to believe in ourselves. We’ve just embraced his system and we think we can go really far, but we’re going one step at a time.”

Much of the team’s hopes for success will depend on Watson. His skill set helped Gray adjust the offensive identity of a squad that passed for less than 1,000 yards last season.

“Last year we didn’t feel our team was built really well for the pass, we were more of a run-oriented team,” Gray said.

“As the season progressed we started to throw a little bit more and in the offseason we knew right away where our strength was going to lie, and it was going to be in our passing game. The offense has not changed all that much, it’s just our emphasis on throwing has increased, to say the least.”

Watson’s only real limitation might be his size. At 5-foot-11 and 173 pounds, he lacks ideal height for a quarterback, making his dual-threat capability that much more important to his overall game.

The junior still has time to grow, but for the time being he’s anything but a true pocket passer.

“Being my height, it’s kind of hard to make those passes that (taller) guys are making,” Watson said.

“I’ve got to learn how to improvise, so I’ve got to do a lot of scrambling and stuff.”

What Watson lacks in physical attributes, he makes up for through intangibles and versatility, on and off the field.

Watson has been a starting safety on the Vikings’ defense since his sophomore season.

He’s also an honor roll student and a leader in the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“I’m a Christian athlete, that’s the most important thing. I do what I do to give God glory,” Watson said.

“I think he’s got a very bright future,” Gray said. “He’s a very smart kid, good grades, great character kid, natural leader and I think if he puts his mind to anything he wants to do, he’s going to be a success.”

East Hall has a bye this week, but Watson will get another chance to show his skills when the team travels to East Jackson on Sept. 13.

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