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Nike Elite – The Official home of the Nike Elite Program – News – Jelani Watkins – Get To Know

Nike Elite - The Official home of the Nike Elite Program - News - Jelani Watkins - Get To Know

A few weeks ago, Jelani Watkins committed to LSU on a football and track and field scholarship. It’s fitting because he has always found a balance between football and track careers. 

“Right now, they’re balanced,” says Watkins, whose nickname is “Red”. “ I put the same amount of balance into both sports.”

When he first started track, he didn’t win all that much, he says. It was in middle school when he started winning. By the eighth grade, his best marks were  11.13(100m), 22.58(200m) and 20-05.25(LJ).

It wasn’t until he arrived at Klein Forest HS that practices began to get tougher and he had to work at it.

In the fall, he played football. At 5-08 150lbs, he was speedy and though he practiced at wide receiver with the varsity, he never played a varsity game. In the winter, he played basketball. Then came the track season.

“When I got there, I got thrown into the fire early,” he says with a long sigh. “ I went straight to varsity. The workouts they were doing were crazy. My mentality was strong enough to handle it though so I was good.”

He adjusted well and by the end of the season he had finished sixth in the 200m at the Texas 6A State meet in 21.06(1.8).  In the summer AAU season, he ran the 100m in a personal best of 10.59(+1.3). He hadn’t run the event in the high school season because he didn’t feel his start was up to par and he needed to work on it.

His sophomore year, he played wide receiver racking up 313 yards on 23 receptions. He didn’t play basketball that season and in track with more experience he began to run better and added the 100m.

“My freshman year I wanted to do the 100m, but I didn’t take it that seriously. When I got to my sophomore year, I wanted to lock in on it more. I started working to improve my start so I tried the 100.”

He lowered his 100m best to 10.21(+3.7) and then won the state championship in the 200m in 20.78(-0.4). He anchored his team to a second place in the 4 x 100m(40.11), and  anchored his team to a win in the 4 x 200m(1:23.37). The 200m was an unexpected surprise, but he knew he could do it.

“20.78 surprised me a lot. I didn’t  feel like I was running that fast,” he says of the win. “ Just getting more experience over a high level of competition helped me from my freshman to sophomore years. I knew I had it in me to do it. I just had to execute it the best way that I could. It did surprise me though.”

His junior year of football he recorded 230 yards in…

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