A Vicksburg native, Kordell Watts stars in the All-Star game Dream Bowl College – The Vicksburg Post

A Vicksburg native, Kordell Watts plays in the Dream Bowl College All-Star game

Published Sunday, January 15, 2023 at 8:00 am

Kordell Watts dreams of playing professional football. He hopes the Dream Bowl can help make it happen.

Watts, a former Vicksburg High star, will attend the Dream Bowl All-Star game on January 22 in Little Elm, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. After ending a stellar career in West Alabama, he hopes to catch the eye of NFL and Canadian Football League scouts who are scouting for talent ahead of their respective leagues’ drafts this spring.

“When you come from the smaller schools, you take what you can get. All I really need is this one person. It’s like going on a date — I just need someone who likes me and will go out with me,” Watts said, laughing.

Taking the long and winding road to the next level is nothing new to Watts. His only steady scholarship offer after high school was Jones College, and it wasn’t until his sophomore season there that he rose to stardom.

Watts switched from guard to center with Jones during the 2018 season and helped the Bobcats average 171.3 rushing yards per game. They finished runners-up in the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference and ranked 5th nationally.

“I was 6-2, 260, so I tried my hand as a guard for a year, and then my sophomore year at Jones, they said we need a center,” Watts said. “They asked me if I could take pictures. I’ve never snapped in my life, but it turned out pretty good.”

Watts added that trying out all three positions on the offensive line — he played tackle in high school and guard and center in college — has been an asset to his resume. It gives the 6-foot-3, 310-pounder an extra bit of versatility that could help it catch the attention of Boy Scouts.

“It’s a good thing to be on my resume, to be able to say I can play any position,” Watts said. “If they ask me if I can play guard, I play it. If they ask me to play center, I’ll play it. If they want me as a tackle, I could play that too.”

Watts signed with Tennessee-Martin in December 2018, but only completed spring training there before moving to Division II West Alabama. He worked his way into the starting lineup over the course of two seasons with UWA and never left in his last two. He’s started at center in 20 of the Tigers’ last 22 games – missing two in 2022 through injury – and has become a staple on the offensive line.

In 2022, Watts led the West Alabama linemen with 24 pancake blocks. He was also named to the Gulf South Conference All-Academic Team.

“I was really proud of it and my boys would cheer me on when I put someone on my back,” Watts said.

After finishing his college career, Watts began looking at what’s next. A former West Alabama teammate, Ricky Chatman, played in the 2022 Dream Bowl and suggested Watts as a candidate to the game’s organizers.

Now in its 11th year, The Dream Bowl is an all-star game designed primarily to give FCS, Division II and Division III players, as well as players from smaller FBS programs, a pro showcase – Scouts to offer. The game advertises that around 30 scouts are present on game day.

While there’s obviously no guarantee that playing in the Dream Bowl will result in a draft pick or the signing of a free-agent deal with an NFL team, Watts said every chance to play in front of scouts is an opportunity worth pursuing.

“This is an opportunity for me to get another game, really my last college game, and also get more eyes on me for getting into the NFL,” Watts said. “My teammate said it gave him a lot of connections. He spoke to a lot of Boy Scouts so I said I might as well go. It can’t hurt to talk to more scouts.”

Watts is trying to follow the same path as another NFL longshot from Vicksburg. Like Watts, cornerback Malcolm Butler played at Vicksburg High and West Alabama and made it to the NFL as an unheralded, undrafted free agent.

Butler famously had a seven-year NFL career that included two Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots and one of the biggest games in Super Bowl history with his crucial interception in Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle.

Watts said he spoke to Butler and got some advice on what lies ahead.

“I knew Malcolm was going to West Alabama, but I didn’t know it was a big deal. I got there and saw his name everywhere,” Watts laughed. “When I spoke to him, he gave me some pointers. He told me to just keep my head down and keep working. When you hear a guy like that going all out for you to make the league, you might as well try.”

Over the next few months, Watts is really about trying his best to play professionally. Whether it’s the NFL or CFL or even the USFL and revamped XFL spring leagues, he’s hoping the Dream Bowl can showcase his talents to someone somewhere who’ll give him their chance.

“I know from how I’ve played this year, there’s going to be someone out there who says, ‘This kid can play.’ Anyone can talk, but the proof is in the film,” Watts said. “So I just want to get out there, have fun at the bowl game, enjoy my last college game, meet some new people and boy scouts, and just have fun with it. Look where I land.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is Sports Editor for the Vicksburg Post. He has been a member of the Vicksburg Post sports team since 1998, making him one of the longest-serving reporters in the newspaper’s 139-year history. A native of New Jersey, he graduated from LSU. During his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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