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August 19, 2013

Asa Watson looking at positives from spring injury



It's no secret that redshirt senior tight end Asa Watson missed the spring with a torn hamstring. It's also no secret that after a year in which he started five games and hauled in 24 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown that he is expected to be the starting tight end when NC State opens the season against Louisiana Tech on Aug. 31.

"This is my second year of significant playing time so I'm really excited about getting back on the field," he said. "This is my last season and I'm just really excited to hopefully finish up strong. I've been preparing all summer and I'm just ready to go."

Going down with an injury right after a new coach is hired and before a player is about to enter his final year of eligibility is tough, but Watson, who redshirted the 2011 season after he underwent two heart surgeries, refuses to dwell on the negative.

"It was hard at first because getting an injury is the feeling of not being in control of what's going on," the 6-foot-3, 237-pounder said. "It takes a lot of patience that I wasn't used to. I think in the end, it allowed a lot of the younger guys to get a lot of experience that they needed. I had to grow in a leadership role even though I wasn't on the field, so I really think it worked out well in the end.

"I saw a lot of growth. [Tyler] Purvis, usually he's the pass catching guy, but he got way more physical. Iƒ'm not taking any of the credit for that, but he turned into a pretty good blocker. Benson [Browne] got better with his hands and everything. [Walk-on Devin] O'Connor did a great job and they all got a lot of experience in the spring."

In addition to serving as a leader for his positional group, Watson also emerged as a leader for the entire squad and was elected to serve on the team's Leadership Council, which the tight end praised the coaching staff for creating. Thanks to the new program, he was also able to grow this spring and summer.

"I think it's a really big asset to the team because we have a group of guys who come together and talk about what our team needs and what we need to see happen," he noted. "It's things as small as getting body wash in the showers instead of soap or stuff like team outings, things like that.

"It's been good and we actually have a guy that comes in and talks to us, he shares with us leadership principals, what to do in certain situations, and how to be more than just a leader by example, how to be a vocal leader. I think that was the part where I needed to grow the most - just stepping up and saying something. That was my biggest place of growth.

"In the spring, we were looking for a vocal leader and I think a lot of guys really stepped up after being a part of the Leadership Council."

Watson, whose older brother Benjamin plays tight end for the Saints, was thankful for everything he accomplished last year, including his first touchdown, which came against Wake Forest, but he is looking for more in 2013.

"It was a fun experience," he said of the 2012 campaign. "It's crazy that I've been here four years and that was really my first year playing. It was great to have that catch and to finally get a touchdown. Hopefully, I can get more this year.

"I think I grew a lot, but I learned that I needed to work on a lot of things [last year]. Over the summer, I worked a lot on catching the ball, blocking and just concentrating. The tempo of this offense is so fast, it's tough to focus when you get so tired, so it's definitely still a work in progress.

"We're adjusting. We've got a long way to go, but we're better than we were the first day and we're better than we were yesterday. We're moving closer to our goal every day."


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