March 21, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Brandon Watts has every intention of heating up for the Minnesota Vikings next fall, and to get ready he’s warming up in workouts at Georgia Tech.
The Vikings drafted the former Yellow Jacket linebacker in the seventh round last year, and while he appeared in just two games near the end of his rookie season, he has potential.
When you’re 6-feet-2, 231 pounds and run the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds on your Pro Day (about this time last year at Tech), you’ll draw attention.
Watts doesn’t work out all the time on The Flats, where he registered 179 career tackles and 16 tackles for lost yardage for the Jackets from 2010-’13, yet he’s around occasionally and not just to lift weights and run.
Several former teammates remain close.
“I talk to them all the time, every time I come to the facility to work out or I’ll hang out with them sometimes,” he said. “Demond Smith, Chris Milton, Bryan Chamberlain . . . I hang out with those guys a lot whenever I come down here.”
Watts has come “down here” a good bit in the offseason. Minneapolis is, um, cold this time of year. It’s not uncommon in winter for the temperatures to be below zero up there, and when he attending Tech’s Pro Day March 13 as a spectator, it had been -17 just a couple days earlier back at his workplace.
Having been born in Augusta and grown up in nearby Sandersville, where he starred as a safety, linebacker and even quarterback at Washington County High, the weather requires an adjustment.
“I come back to Georgia. It’s terribly cold,” Watts said. “It’s a beautiful place, but when it gets cold it’s hard to deal with.”
After suffering a dislocated shoulder in practice before a postseason All-Star game following his senior season at Tech, Watts did not receive an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine. He made quite a showing at Pro Day, however, and the Vikings selected him in the final round.
With a solid training camp and some moments in preseason games, he made the roster. He was active in two of Minnesota’s final three regular season games, and banked a tackle Dec. 21 against the Dolphins.
“It went great. I learned a lot,” he said. “I was a backup, and played on all the special teams. Everything is new to me, but I have a great group of teammates at linebacker and they tutored me.”
Watching his former teammates go through their paces before NFL scouts recently brought back memories, and in a way warmed Watts’ heart.
“Everybody out here is living out their dream,” he said after 11 former Jackets went through drills. “Some of the guys you remember waking up at 5 a.m. and working out hard with. It’s great seeing everybody get out to showcase their abilities.”