Omaha Burke receiver Xavier Watts, the top-ranked recruit in Nebraska for the 2020 class, announced his commitment to Notre Dame on Friday.
Watts chose the Fighting Irish instead of staying home to play for the Huskers. Iowa State, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin also were among Watts’ top schools.
“It would’ve been nice to stay home,” Watts said, “but in the end, I needed to do what’s best for me.”
He would be the first Nebraskan to play for Notre Dame since Trevor Robinson, a 2007 graduate of Elkhorn who was a multiyear starter on the Irish offensive line and went on to play in the NFL.
Watts took visits to all of his top schools, though the focus appeared to be Notre Dame and Nebraska toward the end. He took his official visit to Notre Dame the weekend of June 21.
The Fighting Irish told Watts he’ll have an opportunity to play as a freshman. Though he plays both sides of the ball for Burke, he’ll be a receiver for the Irish.
“They want me to play as a freshman, and it just depends on how well I do and how I perform on the field and off the field. It depends; how much I play is on me.”
Watts also has an eye on the future in his decision to play for Notre Dame.
“I can get to the NFL from Notre Dame, from their staff and how they set the kids up for the future,” Watts said. “Also, if football doesn’t work out or if it ends, I’ll still have a great degree.”
Watts was an All-Nebraska selection after catching 67 passes for 1,093 yards and 14 touchdowns for the state champion Bulldogs. He also made 58 tackles as a safety.
Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long and wide receiver coach Del Alexander were integral in securing Watts’ commitment.
“They were always checking up on me, and it wasn’t always talking about football,” Watts said. “They were asking me about life and what I am stressing about. They just wanted me to do what is best for me, and they were really genuine, too.”
Despite his commitment, he has plans for his senior season.
“I want to have at least close to 20 overall touchdowns, and I want to win Gatorade player of the year, of course,” Watts said of his individual goals. “For team goals, we want to win state, of course. We need to get better at more leadership. Last year we were really close, so this year we need to be a lot closer.”
He’s the first in-state recruit offered a scholarship by Scott Frost to go elsewhere.
Though Frost did target Lincoln Southeast’s Bryson Williams in the 2018 class, Williams was already committed to Wisconsin by the time Frost arrived and decided to stick with that decision.
Nebraska landed all five in-state recruits it offered in the 2019 class, including two of Watts’ teammates from Burke. Nebraska has a commitment from the other 2020 prospect it’s offered, Bellevue West’s Zavier Betts, and the Huskers have three offers out to 2021 recruits who are uncommitted for now.