During the Colorado State football team’s 2017 season opener, Blue Springs South graduate Josh Watson did something that was shown on a handful of major sports news platforms.
In a video that went viral, Oregon State wide receiver Trevon Bradford received a handoff on an end around play. Watson put a big hit on him, which caused a fumble and a recovery for the Rams.
That’s when his father gave him the nickname “Grave Digger,” which is now his Twitter handle.
“My dad told me that, and I said, ‘I like that name,’” the 6-foot-2, 240-pound linebacker said. “Ever since then, some of my friends and my fans call me that. I definitely produce big hits.”
Now he hopes he can make those same hard tackles in the National Football League.
Shortly after the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft ended Saturday, Watson and his agent got a call from the Denver Broncos and they signed him as an undrafted free agent.
He will get a chance to make the roster when he attends rookie mini-camp from May 10-12.
“I first want to thank God my family and the whole Broncos organization for giving me this opportunity to fulfill what I’ve been destined to do,” Watson tweeted Saturday. “Let’s get to work truly grateful!!”
Watson said he was hoping to be drafted in the later rounds, but is happy to get an opportunity with the Broncos. He was ranked as the No. 23 linebacker in the draft by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. after he finished with 367 career tackles at Colorado State, which ranks him fifth on the program’s all-time list. He also had 25 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two interceptions. During his senior year, he had 130 tackles, including 7.5 for loss.
“Colorado State helped me become the man I am today,” Watson said. “They made sure I was going in the right direction and I made sure my teammates were going in the right direction.”
At Blue Springs South, Watson holds the school record for tackles in a season (177 in 2013) and in a game (31 against Fort Osage on Sept. 6, 2013). He also earned the 2013 Mike Jones Award (given to the best linebacker in Missouri among Class 6 schools) and was a first-team all-state selection. He also helped lead the Jaguars to a state championship in 2011.
Should Watson make the Broncos’ roster, he would be familiar with the 3-4 formation of defensive coordinator Joe Woods. He played in the 3-4 during his first three seasons at Colorado State before the Rams switched to a 4-3 for his senior season.
“I am definitely familiar with the 3-4 defense,” Watson said. “I prefer whatever scheme I am playing in. But playing in a 3-4 allows me to play fast and get to the ball.”
And should he make the Broncos roster, Watson said he would relish getting a chance to play with probable future Pro Football Hall of Famer Von Miller.
“It would be a great opportunity,” he said. “He’s a Pro Bowler, a leader and a guy who carries himself well. I actually got to see him work out during my Pro Day. Being able to watch him work and how he moves and how he carried himself was exciting.”
Watson said he’s eager to prove he can play for the Broncos, whether he’s a starting linebacker or playing on special teams.
“I am ready to get to work,” Watson said. “I know when I get there, every day I am going to be fighting for a job. I can be cut any day. As long as I know that, I am going to be competing and busting my butt.”