Watts Named to ESPN All-Mayday Team

MANHATTAN, Kan. Kansas State junior safety Marcus Watts was named to ESPN’s prestigious All-Mayday Team, the network announced recently.

Selected annually by ESPN college football analyst Mark May, the All-Mayday Team is comprised of 24 players 11 offense, 11 defense and two specialists and a head coach who in May’s opinion represent the “toughest of the tough” in all of college football.

A second team All-Big 12 selection by the league’s coaches as well as the Kansas City Star despite playing in just eight regular-season games, Watts was the epitome of toughness during the past two seasons.

The Wildcats’ second-leading tackler in 2005 with 71 tackles, Watts suffered a potential career-ending hip injury in K-State’s final game that season that kept the Hays, Kan., product on the sideline for nearly nine months. As a result, Watts missed all of spring drills while rehabilitating the injury and was still recovering when the 2006 season started, forcing him to come off the bench for the first four games of the 2006 campaign.

As a reserve, Watts continued to make his presence felt and proved to be a key performer on both defense and special teams, collecting 13 tackles, including 10 solos, with nine stops coming in one game vs. Louisville. He also had interceptions vs. Marshall and Louisville   returning the one against Louisville for 68 yards and forced two fumbles, including one on a sack against Marshall that ended up leading to a touchdown.

Nearly fully recovered from the hip injury by game No. 5 at Baylor, Watts’ outstanding play earned him a spot back in the Wildcats’ starting lineup. He went on to start the next four games vs. Baylor, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Missouri. However, just two games into that stretch, he suffered a severe hand injury on a blocked punt against Oklahoma State that was returned for a touchdown in K-State’s 31-27 win over the Cowboys.

Despite the injury, Watts stayed in the game and even made a game-saving pass breakup and then an interception in the end zone on the final play of the contest with OSU at K-State’s 23-yard line.

Needing surgery to repair the damage to his hand, Watts put off the operation for two more weeks and made starts against Nebraska and at Missouri, before being forced to go under the knife in order to avoid permanent damage to the hand following the eighth game of the season.

True to his nature, Watts was undeterred by the latest injury. He continued to work on his conditioning and rehabilitation as the Wildcats marched toward a berth in the Texas Bowl. And when bowl day arrived, Watts was back in Kansas State’s starting lineup against Rutgers.

Watts would finish the game with seven total tackles tied for the second most in the game to close out the year with 26 stops for the season.

But more than his statistics and big plays, Watts displayed the leadership, toughness and self-sacrificing traits of champion and was ultimately recognized for those characteristics by being one of just four Big 12 players named to the 2006 All-Mayday Team.

2006 All-Mayday Team

OFFENSE
QB Brian Brohm, Louisville
WR Kenneth Brantley II, Bowling Green
WR Mike Walker, UCF
TE Luke Smith-Anderson, Idaho
OL Robby D’Angelo, Southern Miss
OL Kyle DeVan, Oregon State
OL Doug Free, Northern Illinois
OL Tony Hills, Texas
OL Ken Shackleford, Georgia
RB George Bell, Virginia Tech
FB Mike Viti, Army
Slot Zerbin Singleton, Navy

DEFENSE
DL Justin Harrell, Tennessee
DL Ray McDonald, Florida
DL Lamar Mills, Kentucky
LB H.B. Blades, Pittsburgh
LB Dan Connor, Penn State
LB Donta Moore, Connecticut
LB Thaddaeus Washington, Colorado
DB Marcus Watts, Kansas State
DB Josh Barrett, Arizona State
DB Andray Downs, Rice
DB Bryan Heinz, Northwestern

SPECIAL TEAMS
K Sergio Aguayo, UNLV
P Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor

HEAD COACH
Joe Paterno, Penn State