On Monday, Jake Dickert spoke to the media about his upcoming return to his home state when he leads Washington State out on to the field this Saturday against Wisconsin.
While Dickert’s return to the land of cheese and lager beer is a great story, he won’t be the only Cougar celebrating a little bit of homecoming this weekend.
“Don’t get me wrong, Madison isn’t sky scrapers and all that stuff,” Wisconsin transfer running back Nakia Watson told the media after practice on Tuesday, “but it’s definitely a bigger city than Pullman.”
Watson was looking for a change of scenery when he left Wisconsin and transferred to Washington State following the 2020 season. He definitely got that, but he also get his chance to make a splash on the field. Last season, the back appeared in all 13 games for the Cougs, but started just one game. He racked up 36 carries for 114 yards while showing flashes of potential along the way. This season, with the departure of players like Max Borghi and Deon McIntosh, Watson will be getting the majority of the snaps at running back and through week one, he seems to be making the most of his opportunity.
“I learned a lot from [Borghi and Watson] and once they left I knew I had the potential to be that guy,” Watson said, “and here I am.”
Last Saturday against Idaho, Watson topped his 2021 rushing total in just one game. The redshirt junior carried the ball 18 times for 117 yards, while also making a pair of catches for 17 yards. This week, he’s looking for a repeat performance in some familiar territory at Camp Randall Stadium.
“It means a lot to me,” Watson said. “It will be nice seeing my old coaches, my old teammates. I’ve got probably 8-10 boys still on the team that I talk to on a regular basis. It will be nice.”
Once the hugs and handshakes are over, there is still a game to be won, and the Cougars enter this one as major underdogs. The Badgers will enter the game as the 19th ranked team in the country and are 17 point favorites in Vegas. Watson has been in that Wisconsin locker room and knows the mindset the Badgers will have when they hit the field at home this weekend.
“I’ve been telling them,” Watson said Tuesday during a press conference, “them boys are going to be coming down hill. They are strong. They are fast. They are powerful. We’re going to have to bite down on our mouthpiece and come up with what we come up with.”
On the other side, Wisconsin is happy to see their old friend come back to the stadium he once called home, but they know that their defense will have to deal with a lot more than Watson once this one kicks off.
“I like Nakia and appreciated when he was here and being around him,” Wisconsin head football coach Paul Chryst said when asked about Watson on Monday. “The threat that he poses is that he’s part of a good offense that our defense needs to stop. It’s not about Nakia. He’s got teammates here that know him well. We all liked having him on this team. But it’s Wisconsin against Washington State and he’s their back. It’s the whole unit that we got to defend. We can’t just get caught up with one person.”
Watson says he’s entering Saturday’s game with a chip on his shoulder. We’ll see if he can get the job done against his former squad this Saturday when the Cougs visit the Wisconsin Badgers. Kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. on FOX.
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PULLMAN – Nakia Watson became an effective collegiate running back at Wisconsin. A few years later, he became the feature back at Washington State.
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