Angelo Watley is yet another player with versatility in South Carolina’s Class of 2011 recruiting cache.
The Peachtree Ridge (Ga.) standout has the ability to play a number of positions for the Gamecocks. He has experience as a defensive end, defensive tackle and tight end for his high school team.
Some recruiting analysts believe he’ll make a great outside linebacker. Some believe his ideal position is defensive end. Others think he is best fitted for tight end.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder started at tight end this season and rotated in at defensive tackle for Peachtree Ridge, which finished 7-4 and missed the Georgia state playoffs.
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His coach believes USC is getting a steal – with options.
“He could be a tight end slash receiver for one,” Peachtree Ridge coach Bill Ballard said. “He could end up being an outside linebacker. A lot of it is going to depend on where they need him and whether he gains weight. He’s a really athletic kid and great with the ball.
“I’ve heard [him playing] from everything from defensive line to outside linebacker or even playing wide receiver as a [flexed] out tight end at South Carolina. I really do think he can play a lot of spots. I think you’d just say he’s an athlete. That’s how you’d classify a guy like him.”
Watley, who had 30 tackles and seven sacks as a defensive end during his junior season, committed to the Gamecocks last summer before any other programs had extended an offer. At the time of his commitment, Auburn, UCLA and Marshall were beginning to show significant interest.
Ballard said college coaches raved about Watley’s untapped potential.
“A lot of [the interest] had to with his great second step off the ball,” the coach said. “He’s a really quick and explosive kid.”
That didn’t help him put up big numbers this season, however. Watley produced modest statistics, catching only a handful of passes and recording just 12 tackles and one sack defensively. Among all of USC’s commitments, he likely had the least impressive season statistically.
However, Ballard said that was due more to the team’s struggles. With a young squad around him, Watley didn’t have the compliment of great players around him – which he did have during his junior season – and he faced a significant number of double- and triple-teams on both sides of the ball.
“We tried to get him to the football,” Ballard said. “He’s really quick to the quarterback. He’s got a great second step and he’s hard to block. He’s a good signee for South Carolina.”