A former player under Head Coach Rick Stockstill, Justin Watts is concluding his first year at Middle Tennessee as the program's wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Watts came to Murfreesboro after spending the previous three years at Chattanooga.
Watts inherited the youngest group of receivers in the I-A era in 2006, and for the first time since MT joined the Sun Belt Conference the pass-catching corps did not include an all-SBC player. Although Watts had his work cut out for him, the young coach proved his ability to develop talent by producing six receivers who turned in career years, led by sophomore Bobby Williams' 33 receptions for 357 yards and a touchdown. Under Watts' guidance, the Blue Raiders had five different receivers with double-digit receptions.
Perhaps the best indicator of Watts' ability to harness talent and develop players was the emergence of heralded freshman Desmond Gee during the 2006 season. One of the top impact players in the Sun Belt Conference, Gee led the Blue Raiders with a 16.0 per catch average and three touchdowns, including a 73-yarder against South Carolina.
In 2005, Watts helped lead Chattanooga to its first winning season since 1997 by coaching the Southern Conference's leading receiver. Watts tutored Emanuel Hassell to first team All-Southern Conference honors after he paced the league with 52 receptions.
In his first two seasons at UTC, Watts coached All-America and All-Southern Conference receiver Alonzo Nix. Nix set the school and Southern Conference single-season receptions record in 2003 with 90 catches and the single-game record of 18 receptions. He signed a free agent contract with the NFL's Tennessee Titans in 2005.
Prior to joining the staff at Chattanooga, Watts served two years as a graduate assistant at Clemson. During that time he was a part of Clemson's 2001 Humanitarian Bowl team and the 2002 Tangerine Bowl squad.
Watts, a former receiver at Clemson, has the rare distinction (one of only two players) of winning five football letters at the South Carolina school. He began his career in 1996, and saw action in three games as a sophomore before suffering a season-ending injury against Florida State. He was able to use a medical redshirt for that season.
He finished his career with 51 catches for 561 yards. He was a member of the 1999 Peach Bowl team that played Mississippi State and the 2000 Gator Bowl squad that faced Virginia Tech. He was also a member of the team when Clemson competed in the 1996 and 1997 Peach Bowls.
The Florence, S.C., native was honored as one of Clemson's scholar-athletes at the 1999 Peach Bowl Awards Luncheon and was selected as a BB&T Student-Athlete of the Week by the Clemson Sports Network.
An outstanding quarterback at South Florence High School, he was ranked as the 17th best quarterback in the nation by SuperPrep and the sixth-ranked player in the state. Watts completed 132 of 238 pass attempts for 1,746 yards his senior season. That year, he played in the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl and was nominated for the state's Mr. Football Award. He finished his career with 7,979 total yards and 74 touchdowns.
Watts was born Oct. 1, 1977 in Florence, S.C. He earned a degree in sports management from Clemson in 2000.
Watts and his wife, Lauren, were married last summer.