A Texas cheerleader runs onto the field with a giant Longhorns flag before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in Austin, Texas. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Football

Texas expected to sign Sioux Falls RB Gabriel Watson, bolstering depth at key position

Watson lead all NCAA Division II rushers in 2018 but redshirted last season with hamstring injury

Posted August 26th, 2020

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Texas is expected to sign one of the best Division II running backs on the grad transfer market in Gabriel Watson from Sioux Falls, according to a team source.

Watson’s paperwork is not finalized just yet, but the school is likely to announce something in the coming days.

Originally from Piedmont, Calif., Watson led Division II in three rushing categories in 2018 while averaging 177.9 yards per game. He had 11 100-yard games that season and finished with a school season record 1,957 yards.

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Sioux Falls running back Gabriel Watson

But Watson suffered a hamstring injury in the 2019 season opener and never looked the same since. He ended up redshirting.

“Last year was a really tough situation,” Watson told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader for a story published in May. “I was super tight with that senior class and it was tough to watch from the sidelines, and it will be tough not having them here next year.

“But aside from not being around my teammates right now I feel about as good as I can,” Watson added. “I’m bigger, faster and stronger. My hamstring is fine and getting stronger. To be honest, the quarantine grind has been treating me well. I feel fantastic.”

Even with this strong pedigree, Watson isn’t guaranteed playing time at Texas. He’ll battle Keaontay Ingram, Roschon Johnson and freshman Bijan Robinson for carries.

Still, the Longhorns know full well the importance of having multiple backfield options. Last season, the depth chart was decimated in August by injuries and the Horns had to improvise, moving Johnson from quarterback to running back and even giving defensive players a look.

“I think that the talent I need is certainly there,” Texas coach Tom Herman said Saturday. “Our three guys on scholarship are really good players. We feel like we can win a lot of games with any of those three guys back there. The thing that is glaring is on the depth.”

Hookfin injured: Offensive lineman Isaiah Hookfin suffered a shoulder injury during Tuesday’s practice, the school announced. He is expected to rehabilitate and be back in time for the season opener against UTEP on Sept. 12.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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