HATTIESBURG — Southern Miss defensive back Andre Watson is the perfect example of an athlete who refused to give up when things looked bleak.
Basically, Watson has faced adversity his whole life, and bounced back.
With the will to overcome life’s challenges, the former Ocean Springs Greyhound has used his motivation of failure to develop into one of the top cornerbacks in Conference USA heading into his senior season at Southern Miss.
“What more can you say about Andre Watson,’’ Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said. ‘‘He does everything we ask and more. If we need him to do something to help the team, like return punts last season, he will do it.”
After a standout high school running back career at Ocean Springs, Watson had to go the road of community college route to keep his dream of playing Division I football alive.
Watson signed with Gulf Coast and would later became a defensive back for the Bulldogs. He helped Gulf Coast gain a share of the junior college national championship in 2007, finishing the season with 59 tackles and seven interceptions.
“A lot of guys do not like going the JUCO route,” Watson said. “Personally, it was the best thing for me. It was the best thing for a lot of guys on the national championship team. Look at T.C. (Terrence Cody) at Alabama. He is doing a lot of great things and he got that chance by going to Gulf Coast.
“If you have the opportunity to play football, you do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s JUCO, Division II or Division III, it’s still football. All you need is an opportunity and you can prove yourself. I did.”
Finally, it seemed Watson’s dream of playing Division I football would become a reality. But to become eligible, he had to take a summer class to earn his community college degree.