The Texas Longhorns got much needed help in their offensive backfield on Sunday, when Tre Watson, a graduate transfer running back from Cal, announced his decision via Twitter.
— Tre Watson (@tre1watson) May 6, 2018
Last season the Longhorns struggled in the run game, gaining a mere 3.6 yards per carry on the ground. They failed to have any one running back gain over 500 yards and their leading rusher was their true freshman quarterback, Sam Ehlinger.
Even though head coach Tom Herman has long been a proponent of running the ball and claimed that would be a major part of his team’s identity, it was a noticeable issue in his first year.
It would not be hard to see Watson using both his skills as a runner and pass catcher in Herman’s “pro spread” offense, a role that running back Duke Catalon filled during the head coach’s tenure at Houston.
While a starting spot is by no means guaranteed to Watson, this was a huge commitment for Herman’s staff. The two backs at the top of the depth chart, Toneil Carter and Daniel Young, both had a less-than-stellar spring and reportedly had issues holding onto the ball during spring workouts.
There are questions about Watson’s durability, as his 2017 season ended with a knee injury. By all accounts, he appears to have recovered from that setback, so the Longhorns should be adding a valuable piece to their running back rotation.
If Watson can replicate the 2016 season he had at Cal, in which he rushed for 709 yards, had 204 yards receiving, and scored eight touchdowns, Texas will have answered one of their biggest question marks headed into 2018.