By Laura Owens
Special to

HOOVER – From the very first snap that Texas A&M senior defensive back Armani Watts played in 2014 in the Aggies’ first game of the season against South Carolina, head coach Kevin Sumlin saw something special.

“All he did was get an interception and knock a bunch of balls down and do a bunch of things,” Sumlin said. “You knew right then he was going to be a great player.”

Coming into this season, Watts is the team’s leading active career tackler (241), despite a shortened junior season. A right hamstring injury in the Ole Miss game caused him to miss the final four games last season. While the Aggies had only two losses before he got injured, they lost three of the four remaining games with him stuck on the sideline.

“It’s tough knowing you can’t be out there, playing with your team, but I had to be mentally tough, to be out there on the sidelines encouraging the younger guys to stay focused and keep playing their hardest,” Watts said. “It’s really tough.”

In the nine games he did play in 2016, Watts collected 56 tackles, including six for losses, and two interceptions, one of which was the game-ending pick against Tennessee in overtime to seal the win and keep the then-No. 8 Aggies undefeated.

“They actually ran that play earlier in the game, and just knowing that it was coming again, I went and got it,” Watts said.

While he considered the NFL Draft, being injured to end his junior season played a big part in him returning for his senior season.

“Being able to play for my senior year is a great thing and I’m happy to be back at Texas A&M again,” Watts said.