Notre Dame Football fans can thank a former Fighting Irish captain for helping Xavier Watts switch from receiver to a top defensive back.
Xavier Watts is coming off yet another massive game for Notre Dame Football. His two interceptions against the Pittsburgh Panthers now has the Irish defensive back leading the nation in interceptions.
While his six picks have been big this year, one of the reasons Watts has been such a big story, is because his season has come out of nowhere. It seems as though the senior defender has finally found how to realize his potential.
So what happened that made Xavier Watts someone who couldn’t stick at wide receiver but became a dominant defensive back? It turns out that he credits a former teammate in Avery Davis.
Specifically, the former Notre Dame Football captain helped Watts originally transition from receiver to linebacker. And then to defensive back when it became obvious that the best place for the defender was going to be patrolling the secondary.
“I looked to him as one of my big brothers,” Watts said in December of 2021 five games into his career as a safety. At that point, he was prepping for the Irish’s Fiesta Bowl matchup against Oklahoma State. That just happened to be Marcus Freeman’s coaching debut by the way.
"“So, as soon as [the position switches] happened, I started talking to [Davis] as much as possible. He gave me great advice. He helped me get through it. [And that was], ‘Really just keep working. Just show what you can do, no matter where you are. You’re a really good athlete. You’re going to ball out no matter where.’”"
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Watts said that when Davis told him that he thought he could have success wherever he played, the defensive back “took it as a compliment” and went from there.
Notre Dame Football in 2021 started to see what he could do. The Irish in 2023 are realizing just how good Xavier Watts is and his defensive dominance is a real weapon.