TRINITY, Ala. — Former Athens High School star Quez Watkins is heading to Super Bowl LVII as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
FOX54 Sports Anchor/Reporter Nick Kuzma spoke with Watkins' former receivers coach/West Morgan Football Head Coach Drew Phillips a couple days ahead of the game.
Phillips: "It was obvious right away that Quez was going to do something special. I remember when [Former Athens Head Allen Coach Creasy] told me about Quez, he said he's got a chance to be the real deal."
"What set him apart in high school was his speed. He would probably tell you he wasn't as strong as he wanted to be...I guess nobody is...but Quez's speed was was pretty special. Never seen anything like that. Obviously ran a 4.3 at the at the [NFL] Combine and really grabbed some attention there, but that's really what set him a part was that and then when you couple that with being able to put him wherever on the field, that's an ingredient to be great and that's what he's doing right now."
Nick: When you look at his development from when you had him specifically as a senior to where you see him now...what are the things that you see that you say, 'wow, he has really come along in this aspect of his game?'
Coach Phillips: Yeah, [it's] his route running. You know, he was raw. I'd like to say I had an impact on him, but man, the way he developed and really surrounded himself with positive people, positive influences, guys who are like him, who are competitors, who strive to be better, to put in extra work. I know he's put in a ton of extra work, but really seeing his route running develop has been incredible. The way he breaks the top of a route, the way he can leave people and his knowledge there to understand, gaining leverage when he comes off the ball. It's just been really, really cool to watch that develop and grow and I know he'll continue to do that as well.
Nick: Do you feel like Southern Miss was the right spot for him to sort of continue to grow and and turn that raw athlete into a little bit more fine tuned [of an athlete]?
Coach Phillips: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I've got a good relationship with Scotty Walden, who's now the head coach at Austin Peay University...and seeing him take [Quez] and help him and mold him was was pretty impressive to see.
Nick: Now, let's fast forward [to the 2020 NFL Draft] and he's taken the sixth round. What was that moment like for you to see someone who you had a direct impact on...coaching on the field... get their name called at the NFL Draft?
Coach Phillips: Well, it'll make your eyes sweat, it still does a little bit to this day. So seeing a young man fulfill his dream and continue to fulfill it, Quez has not even reached what he's going to reach and he knows that.
Nick: Super Bowl LVII is coming up on Sunday. How excited are you for your former player to get to play in literally the biggest game on the planet?"
Coach Phillips: Yeah, man. I'm really excited. It's something special. We're going to be doing a watch party at my house. We're going to be watching the game. My boys will be tuned in and I'll tell you this man Quez comes back in the summer, does a camp at Athens every summer and has an impact there. There's going to be people watching in Athens. There's going to be people in Trinity, Alabama, where I'm at right now at West Morgan, watching. He came by our school and and saw our guys and watched us workout and had a little word for them. And man, there's people excited everywhere because of the impact that he's had. So it's going to be a big, big time [thing to watch]. It is every year, but [it's] a lot more meaningful this year for sure.
Nick: Say, [you had] one last time, [to] be in the locker room with him and you could give him [a] pre-game speech or a few last pointers, what would those last pointers be as he heads into the biggest game of his life?
Coach Phillips: "Man, I'd give him a hug because I'm a hugger. So I'd give him a hug. I'd tell him I love him. I'd say go be you."
Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Central Time on FOX54.