PATH TO THE PROS: Ben Watson

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As a senior tight end at Northwestern High School (Rock Hill, S.C.), Ben Watson averaged 16.6 yards per reception, won All-State honors and was named Student of the Year. He thought he'd have his choice of top college football programs, but he was wrong.

"I had narrowed it down to Duke University, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech," says Watson. Playing for the Fighting Irish was his first choice. He continues, "I was about to take my official visit, and they call me as I'm about to leave for the airport. 'Sorry, we just had a tight end commit. We don't need you to come anymore.' I was crushed, I was devastated."

But Watson immediately shifted his focus. He says, "The biggest thing you want to do is go to a school that wants you." That school was Duke, at least for his freshman season. Watson later transferred to the University of Georgia, where he earned a degree in finance. He was selected 32nd overall by the New England Patriots in the 2004 NFL Draft. He's now a starting tight end with the Cleveland Browns.

Watson's journey to the pros highlights the importance of having options. In case your top choice doesn't work out, have a backup plan. Sometimes, it's the second (or third) option that ends up being the best fit.


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