Alumnus and Member of Chicago Slaughter in Daily Herald Article
By John Theriault Jr. Daily Herald Correspondent
HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL - While it’s apparent the Chicago Slaughter’s Brandon Watts has become a playmaker, it didn’t happen overnight.
Rewind, if you will, to the 1998 IHSA Class 6A championship game between Barrington and Wheaton Warrenville South.
WW South had the game well in hand, leading 42-7 with time winding down. But someone forgot to tell Watts the game was over.
Then a senior, Watts picked up a fumble by a Barrington running back and raced 43 yards for the touchdown, a highlight-reel play that would be the first of many for the speedy wideout.
After graduation, Watts took his skills to Western Illinois University. But seeing little action in his first two years, he decided he loved the game too much to be sitting, so he decided to play elsewhere.
After enrolling at North Park University, Watts posted very good numbers in what would be his junior year at the NCAA Division III school. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound receiver caught 47 passes for 546 yards and 4 touchdowns, including a 32-yard TD reception.
Last fall, Watts had an amazing senior season, posting huge numbers for the Vikings: 52 catches for 709 yards and 3 scores. In addition, he gained another 185 yards on punt returns and 560 on 24 kickoff returns.
He had another unique play for his position, a 37-yard pass completion on his only attempt of the season.
“I had a great season. I really worked hard and got a lot of help from coach (Joe) Davis,” Watts said, giving kudos to North Park’s offensive coordinator.
The 1,456 all-purpose yards earned him the most attention since his state championship moment. His impressive total ranked him first in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and 10th in the nation, a major reason he made the Division III All-America team.
The two-year run at North Park concluded with Watts’ inclusion in the All-American Bowl in Minneapolis. Playing with stars from the Division II and Division III ranks, Watts hauled in 5 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
The transition to the Continental Indoor Football League and the Slaughter came next.
“I’m at North Park, it’s January and I finished my season,” Watts said. “I had a workout (with the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League) and I am finishing school. I am looking at myself, I am ‘Like man, this Slaughter thing could be something sweet."
After a tryout, he made the first-year CIFL team, just a few miles from where he played his high school ball.
The Slaughter plays its second home game at 7 p.m. today against Rochester at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates.
“It doesn’t matter what level it is, it’s right in your back yard,” Watts said. ”I am playing football and finishing school. I’m the man.”
Now, it’s Brandon Watts — professional football player.
In his first action with the Slaughter in Week 3, he returned the opening kickoff 54 yards for a touchdown, tying a league record and giving him one more honor — CIFL special teams player of the week.
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