411-On-The-Forty: Texas football adds transfer running back

30 Aug By
Gabriel Watson

While playing for the University of Sioux Falls, running back Gabriel Watson led all Div. II teams in rushing touchdowns and rushing yards per game in 2018 before getting sidelined in 2019 with a hamstring injury (photo courtesy of usfcougars.com).

“I think that the talent I need is certainly there,” Texas coach Tom Herman said recently when talking about his running backs group. “Our three guys on scholarship are really good players. We feel like we can win a lot of games with any of those three guys back there."

Make that four.

A Texas athletics spokesman confirmed published reports Sunday that running back Gabriel Watson will join the Longhorns this season a grad transfer from the University of Sioux Falls.

Statistically one of the best running backs at the Div. II level in 2018, Watson led the country in rushing touchdowns (26) and rushing yards per game (177.9), and he set a single-season school record in total rushing yards with 1,957 while helping the Cougars to a 7-4 record that season.

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He was sidelined in 2019 with a hamstring injury suffered in the season opener that forced him to take a medical redshirt.

Sioux Falls' loss has become UT's gain, as that redshirt season last fall has allowed for him to join the Longhorns as a grad transfer in 2020.

Watson will compete with Keaontay Ingram, Roschon Johnson and highly-rated freshman Bijan Robinson for playing time, giving Texas head coach Tom Herman and first-year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich four talented backs from which to choose.

As the only running back with four years of college experience, Watson has an edge when it comes to experience, but his journey to Austin has not followed the traditional blueprint. During his senior year of high school, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which may have caused interested Div. I teams to back off their recruitment of him. He began his college career at Div. III Pomona (Calif.) University but reportedly quit school to earn money. An opportunity at Diablo Valley (Calif.) College came his way, and paved his way to Sioux Falls.

Texas will be his fourth college in five years.

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Riley Zayas is a high school freshman and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, his personal blog 360 Sports, and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website.