There will be plenty of opportunities for redshirt sophomore Jamar “Boogie” Watson to make a name for himself this season as part of the Kentucky Wildcats linebacker corp.
Watson will be competing for a starting outside linebacker spot, made vacant by the departure of Denzil Ware, opposite of Josh Allen.
Jamar “Boogie” Watson
Position: Outside Linebacker
Measurements: 6’3”, 240 lbs.
Hometown: District Heights, Maryland
School: Bishop McNamara High School
Recruit Rankings: No. 116 outside linebacker in 2016
‘Boogie’ Watson made quite an impression on the UK coaches last season with six tackles and four sacks in the Kentucky Wildcats’ spring game. Unfortunately for Watson, his playing time during the regular season was rather sparse.
The redshirt freshman was buried on the depth chart behind the junior outside linebackers Denzil Ware and Josh Allen. Allen is back for his senior season, but Ware has moved on, leaving a hole on the side opposite Allen.
The 6’3”, 240-pound Watson was a three-star recruit for Mark Stoops and his staff back in 2016. Watson just began playing football during his junior year at Bishop McNamara High School in District Heights, Maryland.
Watson was a dual sport athlete in high school, playing both football and basketball. Watson chose the Wildcats over the likes of Old Dominion, Boston College and Virginia.
Seeing action in all 13 games last season, Watson totaled seven tackles. Watson’s first sack came against Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. His performance against the Vanderbilt Commodores was probably his most memorable game from last season. In that game, Watson recorded 3 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
This year, a lot more is going to be asked of Watson and he seems to be up to the challenge. He has put on some weight, according to the coaching staff, while maintaining the speed, agility, and explosiveness he was known for when he arrived in Lexington.
“One of the things that Boog’s done is really make a commitment to his body,” new UK outside linebackers coach Brad White recently told CatsIllustrated. “He saw Josh put on that weight, and Boogie’s put on several pounds. He’s up in weight now. This is basically the highest he’s played at, but he’s running with the same speed, he’s bending with the same bend and still got his normal Boogie wiggle to him, which is good. So now you add girth to that game that he has, and he can last in this league. I’m excited with where he is.”
Watson was in the low 220s by the end of last season but in fall camp, he is around 240 pounds now.
“I saw some of the film from late in the season, too, and I didn’t like it too much. It’s a long season, and you have to be really strong to make it through the whole thing and keep making plays.”
Watson can not only play SAM linebacker in the Wildcats’ defense, but he’s able to be plugged in at any of the four linebacker spots. That type of versatility could be invaluable for the Cats this season with the departures of Courtney Love, Eli Brown and the aforementioned Ware.
Watson will have big shoes to fill in Matt House’s defense next season, but the sophomore appears to be up to the task. Watson knows that being durable is going to be key for him because he will have plenty of pass-rush opportunities lining up opposite of Josh Allen, who is projected as a potential first or second round NFL Draft pick.
Allen will receive a lot of attention coming off the edge, and if opposing offenses commit to double-teaming Allen, Watson will have a lot of one-on-one matchups.
Look for Watson to take advantage of many of those opportunities.