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cjleblanc 08-01-2004 09:22 PM

A Bright Young Star in the Making: Courtney Watson
On April 24th, Saints' fans around the country huddled around their televisions in anticipation for the 2004 college entry draft. The Saints went into the draft with several key needs, one of which was a glaring need for a solid linebacker. For weeks all the hype surrounded two key guys ILB Jonathan Vilma and OLB D.J. Williams. Vilma had been compared to the leagues top linebacker, Ray Lewis. The comparisons were almost identicle, to include both came from the University of Miami and both had been told they were under-sized for their position. As time slipped by Vilma was selected with the 12th overall selection by the New York Jets, however with one selection remaining before the Saints' first selection at number 18 overall, all sites were set on D.J. Williams. Denver was on the board and many anticipated them to select runningback at this spot, with the lose of All-Pro HB Clinton Portis in a trade that rocked the NFL for CB Champ Bailey. But to the dismay of Saints fans the Broncos selected Williams. All hope of landing that premiere linebacker seemed to slip away. But could it have been a blessing in disguise?
Eight hours into the NFL Draft the New Orleans Saints made a phone call to the Sarasota, Florida home of Courtney Watson. As the phone call came in, the house erupted in screams of excitement. "The day was starting to get long," Watson said. "I wasn't sure how many teams wanted a linebacker. It seemed like it took forever."
New Orleans had landed themselves a linebacker in Watson ,6'1" 237 pounds, with the 60th overall selection. Watson might not bring the prestige or hype a Jonathan Vilma brings, instead he values himself on his hard work and play. The Saints might have gotten themselves a second round gem in Watson. He is a player that brings leadership, youth, respect, and dedication to a defensive unit that has been in need of it for seasons on top of seasons. Watson was considered by many to be Notre Dame's MVP as he led the Irsh in tackles for the second straight season. For the past two seasons, Watson has been in the running for the Butkus Award as the nation's outstanding linebacker- and was one of the three finalists for that honor in 2002. One thing that stands out about Watson is his dedication, as he was eligible for the NFL Draft in 2003, but wasn't lured by the many who told him he would be a high pick. Instead Courtney retured to Notre Dame for a senior season. Watson is not only a leader on the field but off the field as well as he was one of 11 named to the 2003 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Football Team. The award recognizes players for their dedication and commitment to community service and all nominees must display concern and reliability. They must also make a favorable impression on their organizations. All of which are qualities gladly welcome in New Orleans. Despite the Irish's struggles Watson's effort never dropped, as he remained focused and never layed blame at those who weren't playing well. Instead he lead by example.
"I think my strength is my athleticism," Watson says. "I'm not the biggest player, but I'm very intelligent, and I play with a lot of intensity and heart."
"He's a good all-around player. You talk about guys with speed who may not be tough, or with speed and toughness who aren't intelligent. To a certain degree, Courtney's got a little bit of everything." -Rick Mueller
As the Saints open camp heading into the 2004 season Courtney Watson seems poised to show the critics wrong and perform at the only speed he knows, full throttle. Watson might not bring a first round selection in on his belt, but his ability and will might argue that he should have.

lumm0x 08-01-2004 10:05 PM

A Bright Young Star in the Making: Courtney Watson
Could we have landed another Al Wilson here? One can only hope.

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