While Notre Dame football is preparing to say goodbye to some key players after this season, one of the team’s best defenders could be planning a return.
When the seniors were going through their final warmups and walks during pregame before the Wake Forest contest, there was one name that was noticeably absent.
Xavier Watts didn’t go through the usual rigamarole of a senior. He didn’t walk with Sam Hartman or Jack Kiser.
Watts is a senior. He had every right to do it. He should have done it, and the fact that he didn’t could be very good news for Notre Dame football faithful.
I say could be because it doesn’t appear anything is settled just yet. But because Watts’ first year in South Bend was in 2020, the senior has an extra year of eligibility if he wants it. Whether he decides to take it is still very much up in the air.
Notre Dame football could see Xavier Watts return
Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman addressed Watts not walking before the Senior Day win during his Monday press conference. While he didn’t shed much light on things, he made it clear that everyone involved is aware of the special situation.
"“He’s not a senior. He was a guy I talked with — a lot of those guys that might be going into their fourth year — I had a conversation earlier in the year, ‘Do you want to be considered a senior this year?’ He was one of them that did not. I don’t know what he’s going to do in his future. I’m sure that’s what this question is pertaining to. I don’t know. He hasn’t made a decision (on declaring for the NFL Draft), but he didn’t want to be considered a senior.”"
In the grand scheme of things, Xavier Watts not designating himself a senior just leaves his options open. He can come back for one more year in South Bend. Or he can still decide to head to the NFL.
At the moment, it would certainly make more sense for the nation’s leader in interceptions to go make that money. Especially since his seven interceptions are also the first seven interceptions of his collegiate career.
On the other hand, it makes sense for the defensive back to show that 2023 wasn’t a one-off. If he can show that what he’s become this season is a permanent upgrade, he’s likely to go even higher in the 2025 draft.
If Xavier Watts does come back, Notre Dame football would obviously welcome him with open arms.