Despite Commitment to Texas A&M, Highly Touted 2025 Wide Receiver Winston Watkins Jr. Has Significant Interest in Ohio State

By Garrick Hodge on June 9, 2022 at 10:10 am
Winston Watkins Jr.

Winston Watkins Jr. came to Columbus Tuesday on a mission. 

The surging 2025 Florida wideout had made his first trip to Ohio State two months prior on April 2 with a large contingent of Sunshine State recruits and was blown away by what he saw at the Buckeyes’ student appreciation day practice. 

“The very first time I came here, I just toured the campus facility, like all the ins and outs and I loved it,” Watkins told Eleven Warriors. “So I knew I had to come back to get that offer. I knew I’d have to work hard and do well at the camp to get that offer.” 

Ahead of his workout at Tuesday’s camp, the 5-foot-10, 172-pound IMG Academy product had already generated plenty of noise in the recruiting industry. He already has 14 Division I offers, and football success runs in his family, as Watkins is the cousin of NFL wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins Jr. said his older cousin has been a big influence on his life.

“Really, he never gives me advice about the recruiting process or like football, really,” Watkins said. “He used to give advice about life. He’d tell me that school is important and I have to get that done.”

By the end of his workout Tuesday afternoon, though, Watkins continued on his own path of making a name for himself. He earned an Ohio State offer after impressing Brian Hartline with his route-running techniques and soft hands, passing seemingly every test the OSU wide receivers coach tossed his way. 

“Really, he was just teaching me a lot about tracking the ball and getting my eyes on my break and making sure we’re in control,” Watkins said of his day working with Hartline. 

His routes on air session was so impressive, Watkins was a few minutes deep into a conversation with both Ryan Day and Hartline before one-on-ones even started.

“Coach Day was saying that he really liked how I performed today and that he knew I was going to perform at a high level since the first time I came to Ohio State,” Watkins said. 

After winner-loser drills, OSU was convinced Watkins belonged at the Big Ten level.

In Watkins’ first two reps, he beat his defender badly off the line of scrimmage. By the time the ball was in the air, a frustrated defensive back’s only solution to stop the talented wideout was to grab a handful of his shirt on both reps and use illegal tactics to prevent him from making a play. Particularly on the second play, where Watkins’ shirt was held for a full five seconds, no exaggeration. 

There aren’t any officials on the field at camp, but if there were, the field would have been littered with yellow flags instantaneously as Watkins drew pass interference penalties.

On Watkins’ third rep of one-on-ones, he finally got a chance to showcase his ball skills. Beating the defender by about two to three steps, Watkins adjusted to a ball in the end zone and jumped to make a catch at the highest point, landing in the end zone with ease. It was arguably the best play any receiver made at any of Ohio State’s first three camps this year.

“I can make that play multiple times,” Watkins said reflecting on his big catch. “You know, that’s consistency. Because the ball was in a great place, so (making that play) is normal to me.”

After the rep, Watkins walked back to the sideline with a grin on his face. “That’s what happens when he doesn’t hold me,” the confident wideout proclaimed.

Less than an hour later, Watkins had an OSU offer in hand.  

“It felt great, it felt like all the hard work I did paid off,” Watkins said of getting the offer. “It was definitely a top school for me in my recruitment and I’m just very appreciative of the offer.”

Watkins became the second player in the entire 2025 cycle to make a commitment when he gave his verbal to Texas A&M in December. He said he felt comfortable pulling the trigger that early because the Aggies “felt like a family.” 

Commitment or not, Watkins is a long way away from signing a National Letter of Intent. And his recruitment is far from over. He wouldn’t be taking visits to other schools if it was. After visiting Ohio State, Watkins said he definitely is interested in the Buckeyes despite his commitment to Texas A&M. 

“The receivers they produce,” Watkins said regarding Ohio State’s biggest selling point. “Every year, they always produce at least two receivers.” 

Following five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola’s commitment to Ohio State, recruiting pundits everywhere have suggested the talented signal-caller could help draw recruits in both the 2023 and 2024 cycles to Columbus. That logic also extends to the 2025 class, as Watkins said knowing Raiola will be on campus when he arrives is a point in OSU’s favor. 

“Yes sir, that’s a big extra (perk) to it,” Watkins said. “Including with Hartline already being there, just having a quarterback going there around my time is great.” 

The Buckeyes will continue their attempts to flip Watkins by hosting him on more visits. The Florida resident said he’s considering making the trek to Columbus on Sept. 3 for OSU’s season opener against Notre Dame. 

“That would be great, I can’t wait,” Watkins said.

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