Ole Miss defensive graduate assistant Marquise Watson has been recognized as a rising star in the coaching world and was named one of the nation’s best coaches under 30 years old by 247Sports. The 25-year-old is in his first season in Oxford after rising quickly through the ranks of college football.
At 6-foot-0, 255 pounds, Watson was a three-year starter on the defensive line at Paramus Catholic High School under head coach Chris Partridge, who is now the co-defensive coordinator for the Rebels. The New Jersey native chose to attend Bryant University over offers from Boise State, Maryland, Miami (OH) and Temple and graduated in 2017 as the program’s all-time leading tackler with 256 total tackles.
He played middle linebacker in his first three years and then made the move back to defensive tackle at 306 pounds as a senior. He was absolutely dominant.
Watson took an offer to serve as the running backs coach at Division III program Amherst College right after graduation in 2017 and helped lead the team to a 7-2 record. The offense averaged 178.6 rushing yards per game and boasted the NESCAC leading’s rusher.
In January of 2018, Rutgers football (who showed interest in him as a high school recruit) announced Watson as the school’s newest member of the staff. He served as the team’s assistant defensive line coach and helped the group post 12.5 of the Scarlet Knights’ 16 total sacks during the 2018 season.
After one year back in his home state of New Jersey, Watson returned to Bryant in 2019 as the program’s defensive line coach and run game coordinator. It was a step down in terms of division and conference, but a huge step up in title. The Bulldogs weren’t very good and fell below .500 on the season, but the team averaged about 100 yards rushing per game and defensive lineman Tomas Wright finished as the school’s all-time sack leader under Watson’s guidance.
A few months later, when first-year head coach Lane Kiffin brought on Partidge and D.J. Durkin as Ole Miss’ co-defensive coordinators, Watson’s former high school coach and mentor made a push to bring him on to the Rebels’ staff. His hire was announced at the end of January as a defensive assistant and Watson will be responsible for coaching the Landshark defense’s BUCK linebackers.
In Durkin’s constantly-changing ‘multiple’ defense, the BUCK position is the most important spot on the field. As a hybrid linebacker and defensive end, he lines up off the ball as an outside linebacker if the defense is in a three-man front, and lines up as a defensive end in a four-man front. Watson, having plaid both on the line and as a linebacker, is more than qualified for the role and will expect big things from a group led by Sam Williams.
Keep an eye on the position this fall and watch for Watson to one day be in control of an entire defense, if not an entire program.