By Jerry Del Priore
Former Canarsie High School running back Johnny Watson verbally committed to Nassau Community College Saturday morning, said the 18-year-old student athlete. Watson also said he will officially sign this Monday.
While Watson had a standing offer from Monroe Community College in Monroe County, New York, he said he chose Nassau for its academics and football prospects.
“Monroe, they weren’t giving me the chance to fulfill what I wanted to do,” the East New York native said of his academic and athletic aspirations. “I just can’t go to a school because they have a great football program.”
In addition, he received assurance from the Lions’ run game coordinator, Mike Sollenne, that Nassau would deliver the goods in the academic and football departments.
“He (Coach Sollenne) was saying I was a good fit for their running game,” Watson said. “He said it was a good opportunity for me academic-wise and football-wise.
“I don’t only want to fulfil my football dreams, but my educational dreams, too.”
Watson rushed for 812 yards on 114 carries with three touchdowns and an average of 7.12 yards per touch in his senior year at Canarsie.
He rumbled for 890 yards on 109 attempts with seven scores with an average of 8.17 yards per handle in his junior year as a Chief.
In his sophomore year on the junior varsity team, Watson manned the quarterback position because of the squads’ need. And he performed quiet well, combining for 595 yards between the air and ground.
Watson said he’s third on the Lions’ depth chart at the tailback position, but he’s ready to compete for playing time.
“Right now, I’m getting my body back in shape,” he explained. “I have two tailbacks in front of me, but I’ve been told I will get my touches.”
The six-foot, 230-pound Watson went on to express gratitude to Canarsie’s athletic director, Joe Mento, and the school’s new football coach, Brian Ellis. Plus, former Chiefs varsity football coach, Kyle Allen, for affording him the opportunity to play for such a historically good college gridiron program.
“I want to thank Mento and Brian Ellis for their help,” he said. “And for coach Allen for getting me to where I need to be, and telling me what I needed to fix”
Coaching Watson for four years, Allen believes he possesses the abilities to do well at Nassau as long as he erases all self-uncertainty.
“As long as he works hard, he can be successful,” Allen said. “He’s has the strength and talent to be successful. Once he stops doubting himself, cutting too early instead of lower his pads, he’ll be off to the races. Plus, stay focused in the class room, so he can finish out his football career at a four-year college.”
The Lions posted a 5-4 record in the 2017 campaign.