Former Cal running back takes talents to Texas

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Former Cal Football running back Tre Watson has taken his talents to Austin, Texas, to play for the Texas Longhorns as a graduate transfer this upcoming season.

“I left Cal to experience bigger football,” Watson told ESPN. “I couldn’t turn down this opportunity to play on one of the biggest stages in college football.”

He announced the move on Twitter late Sunday afternoon.

The news comes as no surprise, as Watson announced in January that he would be transferring to a different university for his final year of eligibility and would pursue a master’s degree wherever he ended up enrolling. He was reportedly deciding between Texas, Texas Tech and LSU before finally settling on the Longhorns. He is a likely front-runner to land the starting job in the Texas backfield.

Side note No. 1: What’s with the subtle dig at Cal? “I left Cal to experience bigger football”? In a Twitter post announcing his initial decision in January, Watson declared that “I will forever be a Bear, and I love you all. Go Bears!” That was all well and good, but then he drops this shot at Cal?

Hey, Cal may not average 90,000 fans at our home games or have live animals pose as mascots (frankly, I’m still a little bit fuzzy on what Oski is), but you don’t have to call Cal out on your way out.

Since 2014, Cal and Texas have had the same number of wins: 23. They have had the same number of players drafted in that same time frame: 11. Who had a No. 1 pick during that time? Cal.

Clearly, Texas is a more prestigious program, but at this point, Texas has more style than actual substance. Wish Watson didn’t break up with Cal as if it was just a stepping stone to someplace better. What they had was special, damn it.

Side note No. 2: Did Watson recently gain superpowers? The dude looks like the star of a new “Ghost Rider” film that went straight to cable or an extra in a Michael Bay cut scene. Guys, his eyes are on FIRE.

Guess it’s true what they say —Texas does things a little bit differently than the rest of the country. Anyway, the five “hook ‘em horn” emojis and five exclamation points to match his jersey number was a nice touch.

Watson last played for the Bears on September 9, 2017 in a win against Weber State in which he sustained a knee injury that ended his season.

It was a disappointing end to a promising Golden Bear career — in 2016, he rushed for 709 yards and eight combined touchdowns. Watson and the coaching staff had high hopes for the tailback heading into his senior season, but it proved not to be. The native of Corona, California, finished his Cal football career with 2,430 all-purpose yards and 13 total touchdowns.

“We appreciate everything Tre Watson did during his four football seasons at Cal,” said Cal head football coach Justin Wilcox in January. “We are proud that he is on track to graduate this May and will support him as he finishes his UC Berkeley degree and continues to rehab from the injury he suffered last season. We wish him all the best in the future on and off the field.”

Patrick Laird will have to shoulder the burden of producing for the Bears on the ground as a redshirt senior next season without the help of his former backfield partner. Laird finished with 1,449 all-purpose yards and 9 touchdowns in 11 games last season in the absence of Watson. Look for him to have an even larger role to play this season.

Rory O’Toole writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected]