Occidental's Kevin Watson Signs With New England Patriots
Occidental College defensive lineman Kevin Watson ’03 agreed to a college free agent contract with the New England Patriots on Sunday, April 27 following the 2003 NFL draft. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound senior from Century High School in Santa Ana will participate in the Patriots’ voluntary mini-camp May 1-4.
Winner of the 2002 Super Bowl, New England is considering Watson at nose tackle and defensive end, where he’ll face some stiff competition in training camp. The Patriots drafted Texas A&M’s Ty Warren with the 13th overall pick in the first round and also selected Cal defensive end Tully Banta-Cain late in the seventh.
“I know I have something to prove,” Watson said. “I’m young, I’m one of the smallest players in my position, and I’m coming from a Division III school. But I like that kind of challenge.”
Watson, 2001 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference defensive player of the year, helped lead the Tigers to an 8-1 record and a SCIAC championship that year. He was named to the all-conference first team for three consecutive years, after being named to the second team his freshman year. As a defensive starter for the 2002 Tigers, he racked up 63 tackles (30 unassisted), and 4.5 sacks.
“Kevin is probably the best lineman to play here in my 23 years at Oxy,” said head coach Dale Widolff. “He’s fast, he plays hard, and he’s very demanding of himself.”
Watson is not the first Oxy Tiger to play professionally. Vance Mueller ’86 was a fourth-round draft choice who played six seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders, and two members of Occidental’s 2001 championship squad, Josh Jansen ’03 and Tyler PaoPao ’03, were selected in the Canadian Football League draft last spring. Watson is the eighth Oxy player to sign as a free agent.
Jack Kemp ’57, former quarterback of the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers, and Jim Mora ’57, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, also played at Occidental.
Only one Division III player was taken in last weekend’s draft. The Oakland Raiders selected wide receiver Ryan Hoag of Gustavus Adolphus in the 262nd and final pick of the draft. Watson is one of eight Division III players who have agreed to free agent deals this spring.