Jelani Watkins, Houston Klein Forest (TX)
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Class of 2024
If the name sounds familiar, it's because Jelani Watkins, a very talented young sprinter, ran a very non-official 10.02 in the 100m in March at the Walter Heinstchel Relays.
Now, the larger thread here isn't the time but the athlete: Watkins is legit.
He went on to finish sixth in his debut in the 200m at the UIL Class 6A Track and Field Championships, doing so in a career best performance of 21.06. But that was also one of nine performances under 21 seconds for the freshman over the season. The volume of consistency is what stood out.
He was tied with Shamar Heard as the fastest first-year athlete in the 200m over 2021, too. There's no debating that.
While Watkins didn't have a ton of 100 meter performances to his name, he was likely a mid-to-high 10s sprinter last year. Only five freshmen athletes nationally ran wind-legal times of 10.7 a year ago.
This weekend, Watkins will get his first opportunity to run indoors, and I will be the first one to admit I'm curious what we're going to see out of him. He's entered in both the 60m and 200m.
One more fun note: Watkins is currently rated as a four-star football prospect, and he has racked up offers from Texas A&M, Houston, Louisiana Tech, Buffalo and UTSA.