A former player under head coach Rick Stockstill, Justin Watts is coaching his ninth season at Middle Tennessee as the program's wide receivers coach. Watts, who also serves as the recruiting coordinator, came to Murfreesboro after spending three years at Chattanooga.
In 2013, Watts’ unit came up with 192 receptions and 14 touchdowns while three different receivers enjoyed 100-yard games. Seniors Tavarres Jefferson and Kyle Griswould both ended their careers ranked in the top five all-time in receptions.
The top three pass catchers in 2012 all turned in their best seasons under the direction of Watts. Anthony Amos, a first team all-conference player, led the way with 72 grabs for 992 yards and nine touchdowns. Amos fell just short of becoming the second receiver in school history to top the 1,000-yard mark. Griswould had a career year with 45 receptions while freshman Christian Collis had 18 catches.
In 2011, Watts had four receivers with 30 or more catches including a career year by Tavarres Jefferson (team-best 51 catches). Malcolm Beyah and Sancho McDonald ended their careers ranked in the top ten all-time at MT in receptions and receiving yards.
Watts’ 2010 group was young but balanced as 15 different players caught passes with nine having at least 15 receptions. Four of his top five pass catchers were underclassmen.
Taking advantage of the Blue Raiders fast-paced, wide open offense in 2009, Watts had nine different receivers catch at least 11 passes and 17 who caught at least one. The passing game was good for a school record 3,064 yards to go along with a record 25 touchdowns. The group also had six different players catch at least two touchdown passes.
In 2008, Watts’ pass catchers had a breakout year as six players set personal highs in receptions while two topped the 50-catch mark for the first time since 2004. Newcomer Eldred King and Patrick Honeycutt both turned in an 11-catch game while freshman Malcolm Beyah turned in a number of highlight-reel receptions, including one that made ESPN’s Plays of the Year. Beyah, in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN2, pulled down a Hail Mary on the game’s final play to give the Blue Raiders a 14-13 win over Florida Atlantic.
Watts inherited the youngest group of receivers in the I-A era in 2006, and for the first time since 1999 the pass-catching corps did not include an all-conference 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. 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 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-American 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 and was inducted into the Florence Hall of Fame in January 2014.
Watts was born Oct. 1, 1977, in Florence, S.C. He earned a degree in sports management from Clemson in 2000.
Watts is married to the former Lauren Remillard of Southington, CT, and they have a son, Chase, and a daughter, Kendall.
THE WATTS FILE
Season at MT: 9th
Date Hired: January 17, 2006
Recruiting Area: North Florida, Southeast Georgia, Central Alabama, East Tennessee
Birthdate: October 1, 1977
Hometown: Florence, SC
Spouse: the former Lauren Remillard
Children: Chase and Kendall
High School: South Florence
College: Clemson, B.S. Sports Mgmt., 2000
Wide Receiver at Clemson (1996-2000)
2001-02: Clemson (graduate assistant)
2003-05: Chattanooga (wide receivers)
2006-Present: MT (wide receivers & recruiting coordinator)
1996: Peach Bowl (player)
1998: Peach Bowl (player)
1999: Peach Bowl (player)
2001: Gator Bowl (player)
2001: Humanitarian Bowl (coach)
2002: Tangerine Bowl (coach)
2006: Motor City Bowl (coach)
2009: New Orleans Bowl (coach)
2011: GoDaddy.com Bowl (coach)
2013: Armed Forces Bowl (coach)