Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–7–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hard work: It's elementary to Watson

Bombers second-year receiver thinks he knows secret to success

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There's no magic potion for Cory Watson. He can't guzzle down some crazy concoction and -- POOF! -- instantly transform into the star receiver Winnipeg Blue Bomber management is convinced he can become this season.

Taking that next step for the 27-year-old Concordia product is all about finding a consistency in his game, fine-tuning his route-running and the physical basics like becoming stronger, faster and more durable. It's about putting in the extra time in the film room, at the gym and on the football field.

In short, it's about hard work.

And it's because of what they know about Watson -- about his upbringing and his dedication -- that helped the Bombers make the decision to back away from the Chris Bauman bidding in February when the club felt the price became too steep and the Brandon product signed with the Edmonton Eskimos.

Yes, if there's one thing Cory Watson gets, if there's one characteristic that is at the very core of his DNA it's this: the man knows hard work.

"That's from my mom," said Watson after a second solid day of work at Bomber mini-camp. "She came here as a single mom and worked hard. I see that and I've said to myself, 'If she can do that and I'm out here doing something I love then I've got to put in the hard work as well.' That's nothing I shy away from.

"Hard work is a part of who I am."

Watson is the second-oldest of nine children his mother Anne-Marie raised on her own after immigrating from Jamaica. As the big brother, Watson took pride in being a solid role model, baby-sitting or working through school to help while the family moved five times around the Montreal area. The male figure he needed for guidance during his teenage years was his uncle, Dave Spence, who now coaches at Concordia -- where he once suited up as a receiver/returner -- and the same school Watson attended before turning pro with Winnipeg.

The Bombers' first pick last year, ninth overall, Watson made the starting lineup as a wide receiver right from training camp. But he admittedly struggled early and fought through a knee injury before reclaiming his game at the end of the season with eight catches in the final three contests, including a 55-yard touchdown.

That late-season production came as Watson gained confidence and dedicated himself to learning his craft. Case in point: about halfway through last season Watson began meeting with receiver coach Chris Wiesehan every morning -- a full 90 minutes before he was required to report -- to soak up as much info as he could.

This winter Watson hooked up with his uncle Dave at some Concordia workouts and he also leans heavily on self-evaluation. His girlfriend, Annie-Pier Gorup, is also big-time involved.

"She watches everything I do and evaluates me," said Watson with a grin. "Believe me, if I'm not self-evaluating she'll tell me. You get better by studying yourself and what you can do to get better as a receiver. It's things like route running, reading coverages... the little things, the small details. It's not just about running the routes, it's how you set them up.

"I have one year under my belt and I think I have the tools to become a good receiver and now it's time for me to work at it. Confidence has a lot to do with it. Coming from the CIS to the CFL... you see these guys on the television and you can become a little intimidated by them. But once I got comfortable, I started to understand that I belong.

"I know (the Bombers) have a lot invested in me," Watson added. "I'm out here to put in the work to one day start, not to be a backup, for a long period of time."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 13, 2011 C3

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