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Cleveland’s Watson commits to Fresno State

Tre Watson makes a reception for Cleveland during its state championship football victory last year vs. Rio Rancho. A rising high school senior, Watson said he has verbally committed to play for Fresno State in 2021. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

One of the state’s few available blue-chip senior football players announced his college intentions Wednesday, as Cleveland High School wide receiver Tre Watson used his Twitter account to commit to Fresno State.

“It’s gonna be the best fit for me,” said Watson, 17. “The relationship with the coaches and that my parents built … it’s beyond measure. It’s great.”

The 6-foot-5, 223-pound Watson had offers from Fresno State, New Mexico, Army, Air Force, New Mexico State, Eastern New Mexico, Northern Arizona, Texas State, Liberty, Virginia State, Missouri State and Mississippi Valley State.

And he probably would have had others if there were a football season this fall.

“I wouldn’t say it forced me (to commit early),” Watson said. “I was planning to make the decision in October, because I was going to get four games on film so other teams could see me. But at the end of the day, you can’t wait for other schools that haven’t given you that opportunity.”

Watson missed a sizable portion of his junior season with an broken arm, although he did return late in the regular season and was part of Cleveland’s Class 6A state championship team last season.

“With Tre, the ceiling is very high,” Storm coach Heath Ridenour said. “I think this pandemic and quarantine and postponed season is ultimately going to be tough on Tre, because I think he’ll put together an unbelievable season, and a lot of schools are gonna say, ‘Oh, I didn’t see this coming out of this kid.’ ”

Watson caught over 400 yards of passes with five touchdowns in his limited time last fall.

Fresno State was one of the more recent programs to offer him a scholarship; the two sides didn’t start talking until mid-March.

But Watson said he’ll “bring another dynamic” to that offense at tight end, the position he expects to primarily play at the next level. Fresno State runs a two tight-end set, he said.

And, to that end, Watson said he’ll likely spend more snaps at tight end next spring with Cleveland, to accelerate the transition.

How much football will Watson actually play for Cleveland? That depends on the Storm’s basketball season, in the new sports calendar released on Wednesday.

If Cleveland reaches the second week of state basketball (March 8-13), he’ll for sure miss one game and possibly two of the Storm’s seven regular-season contests.

Watson is one of several metro-area athletes who have spurned the Lobos to go out of state, joining the likes of Sandia’s Sam Carrell (Baylor) and Los Lunas’ Tyler Kiehne (UCLA).

“I really did consider UNM,” said Watson, who is originally from Los Angeles. “They made it their priority to recruit me and (told me) I needed to stay home. I have nothing but love for them and their coaching staff. I appreciate them reaching out and recruiting me.”


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