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South Fayette standout Watson chooses Penn

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
South Fayette's Justin Watson runs in for a TD after a bobbled catch against Seton-La Salle at Baldwin High School on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. South Fayette won, 51-12.

When a high school football player gets an offer to compete at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, the temptation to compete on the biggest stage usually leads to a commitment.

For South Fayette's Justin Watson, that just wasn't enough.

Despite having offers from Mid American Conference programs Akron and Buffalo, Watson committed to the University of Pennsylvania of the Ivy League – a Football Championship Subdivision conference. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior also had offers from Bucknell, Cornell and Fordham.

“I knew early on I would have to decide between a more football based school or an Ivy League school,” Watson said. “I loved all the coaches I dealt with at Penn and once I visited campus, I knew it was the place. It was a great honor to be offered by big time schools.

“I hope I can bring that kind of talent to Penn and have it lead to some big things.”

Watson said he plans to studying business with an emphasis in economics at Penn and noted the school has one of the best business schools in the country. And he was struck by the metropolitan setting in Philadelphia.

“I loved the campus,” Watson said. “You are in a major city but once you step onto campus, you lose yourself.”

While Penn is better known for its studies than its athletics, the Quakers football program is no slouch. The program has captured 16 Ivy League football championships, including three of the last four. Penn was picked to win the conference in 2013 in the Ivy League preseason poll.

Watson said it is a relief to have the decision out of the way and he can now concentrate on what happens on the field. Watson finished 2012 with 28 receptions for 592 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 26 tackles and two interceptions as a defensive back.

The Lions enter the season with high expectations, being ranked No. 2 in Class AA in the Tribune-Review's preseason rankings.

It isn't anything new for South Fayette, where high expectations are the norm.

“Every year we set our sight on three championships,” Watson said “We want to get through our first nine games and win the conference. From there we want to make it to Heinz (Field) and then to Hershey.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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