DALTON, Ga. - It's no secret that Watts Dantzler loved everything about the recruiting process. The massive Dalton High School offensive tackle, rated among the state's top senior prospects, loved visiting interested schools, enjoyed meeting famous coaches and players and rarely shied away from a media request.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise to many in the recruiting circles when Dantzler committed early to the University of Georgia. Though Georgia, where his late father, Danny, played for Vince Dooley, was always the favorite to land the 6-foot-8, 315-pounder, the belief was that Watts would play it out at least through the season.
However, his commitment - made on Father's Day to honor his dad - also was a statement that he wants to make his final prep season one to remember. Though the Catamounts have maintained their winning ways - now 50 years and counting - they have yet to win a playoff game in Dantzler's three seasons. As former player and assistant Matt Land takes over as head coach this season, his big star is ready to help forge a special season.
"Thankfully, I'm done visiting colleges, so now I can get in the weightroom, get stronger and focus on being the best I can be this year," Dantzler said on the day he committed. "I want to play 15 games this year and win every single one of them."
Those kinds of comments weren't lost on Land, who welcomes all the leadership he can get from Dantzler. The Dalton community is still somewhat shaken by the departure of previous coach Adam Winegarden. Land is well aware that his team will unify if a player of Dantzler's reputation is willing to sacrifice personal attention for the team's good.
"Watts has given us all a lesson in what Dalton football is all about: hard work, integrity, truth and honor," Land said. "Those are the pillars of this program, and Watts Dantzler has done nothing but exemplify those points on and off the football field. Now that his recruitment is over with, we can get about the business of winning a championship."
While Dantzler knows he will face a stiff challenge when he enters college, he also understands that opposing defenders will try to make their own names at his expense this season. His position coach, former University of Tennessee All-American Bill Mayo, believes his protege is ready.
"When you're in the position he's in, he's going to get everybody's best every week," Mayo said. "The players he's going to play against are going to measure themselves against him every week. He does a nice job of preparing himself for that challenge every week."