Chris Watt, the 6-foot-3, 280 pound four-star offensive guard from Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, Ill., has 16 scholarship offers, but has not started to narrow down his choices yet.
"I'm just now starting to think about things and starting to pick schools," Watt said. "I don't have a set list or anything yet, but I've been to a lot of junior days already."
While denying a favorite, Watt plans to narrow down his choices soon and would like to make a commitment before the start of his senior season. "I'd like to have a top five in April, maybe May at the latest," he said. "I want to focus on my senior season, so I'd like to decide before then.
"The main things I will be looking for is to make sure that I get along with the coaches and the players," he said. "I'd also love to play for a program with a storied tradition."
While Watt admits that distance isn't a factor in his decision, he says that location is. "I think I'll probably stay in the Midwest," he admitted. "Those are the main schools I'm looking at, but I'll probably still visit a few others like Virginia and Stanford because they've offered too."
Watt, ranked as the No. 3 offensive guard in the country by Scout.com, also has offers from Notre Dame, Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State, Miami, Arizona, Stanford, Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan and Indiana.
"I went to junior days at Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin," he said. "Wisconsin hasn't offered and they already have a guard committed for 2009, so I'm not really looking at them. I think I've got plenty of other good choices, so I'm not worried about it."
He says the school that is recruiting him the hardest is Notre Dame. "It was a really good experience at their junior day," he said. "I've been to a game there before and I love the atmosphere there. The tradition is amazing and the academics are second to none. Not a lot of schools can compare to Notre Dame in tradition. They've had the national championships and a lot of great players have gone there. Everyone knows Irish football. They have fans all over the country.
"They had a great recruiting class and that's a good step," Watt said. "They had a young team last year and I'm expecting big things from them. I really like coach Charlie Weis too. He's really cool and laid back. We talked for a bit and he told me a story about Bon Jovi because I guess they know each other. He's an easy guy to talk to."
Tradition is key for Watt and that's one of the things that impressed him most about Michigan as well. "I like how the team always competes really hard and they have great tradition too," he said. "The campus is pretty nice too and it's like a little city."
"I also really like the coaches and I think coach Rich Rodriguez will do really well there. I also really like the strength and conditioning coach (Mike Barwis). They just seem to always produce great players."
While not quite as well-known as their in-state rival, Watt admits he was impressed with the fan support of Michigan State as well. "I really like the rivalry they have with Michigan," he said. "They campuses are actually pretty close to each other so it gets intense. Everyone in Michigan follows football and Michigan State has a big fan base too."
Growing up, Watt admits he used to follow Illinois because his mom went there. "She's always been a fan and got me into them," he said. "But now I'm just a huge college football fan and follow everybody."
The Fighting Illini are only three and half hours from Watt's home and he plans on visiting them on Friday, March 28.
While his mom went to Illinois, his brother now attends Northwestern. Kevin Watt is a defensive end for the Wildcats. "He's pretty open with me," he said. "He likes Northwestern a lot and feels it was the right place for him, but he wants what's best for me. He said to make sure that I love the school before I commit because I'll have to live there for four years."
Watt says he plans to visit several schools during the spring and will likely get out to Indiana, Ohio State, Northwestern and others.
The Buckeyes are another program that fits Watt's criteria, specifically when it comes to their tradition. "They are a great program and always seem to have a top team," he said. "They really know what it takes to win."
Watt says he can bench press 325 pounds, squat 450 and has a 26-inch vertical jump. "I'm really aggressive at the point of contact," he said. "I finish my blocks really well too. I play physical and am a real competitor. I don't quit until the whistle is blown.
"I work out like four or five times a week and I'm always trying to improve my strength," he said. "I'd love to get bigger and faster at the same time. I'm also working on my pass blocking and my overall technique."
Watt reports an impressive 4.3 core GPA (with honors classes) and is taking the ACT in April.