Wisconsin Following Taylor Football

Wisconsin’s Nakia Watson, who rushed for 191 yards during a shortened 2020 season, carries against Michigan State on Oct. 12, 2019, in Madison, Wis.

Washington State is expected to return one of the Pac-12’s top backfields this fall with Max Borghi and Deon McIntosh, but the depth at the running back position appeared to be murky after that, especially if the two players who combined for 80% of the team’s rushing yards last year decide to leave at the end of the 2021 season.

The Cougars addressed that issue Monday, adding a Big Ten transfer who was once in line to take over the role held by former Wisconsin great Jonathan Taylor.

Nakia Watson, a former four-star recruit who played in 19 games over three seasons with the Badgers, announced his commitment to WSU on Instagram Monday.

“Grateful for the opportunity to continue my academic and athletic career at Washington State University #WAZZU,” Watson posted.

McIntosh has one year of eligibility remaining and Borghi may have the opportunity to leave for the NFL with a productive fall season playing in Nick Rolovich’s more run-oriented run-and-shoot offense. If both players leave, Watson could be in a prime spot to get the lion’s share of carries in 2022.

As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Watson spelled the All-American Taylor and logged 74 carries for 331 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per attempt. During the Badgers’ COVID-19-impacted 2020 season, Watson emerged as one of the main ball-carriers, rushing 53 times for 191 yards, three touchdowns and 3.6 yards per carry.

The Austin, Texas, native was considered a four-star prospect by 247Sports.com, the nation’s No. 11 running back and the No. 47 overall prospect in the Lone Star State. According to 247Sports.com, Wisconsin was Watson’s first and only Power Five offer, although he committed to the Badgers fairly early in the process, pledging in June 2017. His other offers included Nevada, Ohio, North Texas, Bowling Green, Texas State and Sam Houston State.

Theo Lawson can be reached at (509) 939-5928 or theol@spokesman.com