March 27, 2014
By CSU Athletic Historian, John Hirn
Ram Alumni Athlete Association
The 2014 football season will mark the 20th anniversary of what many Ram fans will remember as one of the greatest seasons in school history. That 1994 football team exploded on the field to gain national success and this year we celebrate those Rams that helped ignite the Sonny Lubick Era of CSU Football.
Members of the ’94 team included CSU Hall of Fame inductees Greg Myers, Sean Moran, Brady Smith, Anthoney Hill, Ray Jackson and of course Coach Lubick. One Ram great from the 1994 team who will never be forgotten is running back, #19, E. J. Watson. Watson was recruited by Earle Bruce in 1992 and really hit the field with vengeance starting in the 1993 season.
Watson would lead the Rams in rushing yards in ’93, ’94 and ’95, earning all-conference honors in 1995 and two WAC Championship rings in 1994 and 1995.
Looking back on his career at CSU, E.J. Watson remembered what it was like to be part of the greatest transformation in CSU football since the Fum McGraw days. “I can recall being told by my friends in San Diego that we got a new coach from the University of Miami, Coach Lubick, and thinking that this could be a good thing.” Watson said, “I actually think that Lubick won the team over in the very first meeting that he had with us. Winning changed the entire community, and it definitely was a special time to everyone that was involved.”
Watson went on to say, “We competed at a high level in practice because the coaches made it a fun but challenging environment. We competed every single day like it was our last. That is why we made game-day look so easy. We had already won the game during our week of preparation.”
Watson’s tough style of play won the hearts of Ram fans that enjoyed his ability to bounce and twist his way down the field to make the Rams a special team. He remembered his tough style of play and said, “I’d like to think that I brought a mentality to the game that reflected our team’s mindset. My RB coach, Mick Delaney, used to always tell me that ‘You have to be a tough son of a gun’, and I tried to live up to that.”
Watson’s success and the Rams’ success paid off as the team climbed higher into the national AP polls than at any time in school history. Fans began to think a perfect season could be possible after the legendary win over Arizona, a team picked by Sports Illustrated to win the national championship. That game stood out to Watson as one of the most special he played in and said, “The Arizona game was special because at the time they were chosen to win the National Championship, until they ran into something special taking place with a bunch of guys from CSU. That game gave us the national recognition during that season.”
Watson also cited his 210-yard rushing performance and three touchdowns against Fresno State in 1993, which was Watson’s first college game.
Since graduation from CSU, E.J. Watson has earned his mater’s degree in Information Systems Management working in the information technology field for the past 15 years. He is planning to return to school for is doctorate in business management and organizational leadership. He has recently started an IT consulting firm to provide enterprise solutions to customers, including the Department of Defense.
Watson’s three sons are also athletes, but in a different sport than many would think. They are all outstanding baseball players in an elite competitive baseball league in Southern California. His nine-year-old was recently rated as one of the best of his age in the nation and his oldest son is preparing to play on the 12 and under USA team.
E.J. says of his sons that he is a proud father who would like to see his boys take up football and possibly attend CSU in the future. He said, “As they get older and older their conversations are switching more an more towards playing football, which I am more than okay with.”
Looking back 20 years after the great team of 1994, E. J. Watson said, “I would like to mention that we were and always will be family. We went through some good and bad times together which helped mold me into the man that I am today.”
E.J. Watson is watching today’s Rams and says that he likes what he sees in the program and hopefully they can create their own magical season like 1994. He reminds today’s team that it starts with the players to take ownership and make their own history.
Watson’s message to the 2014 Rams is, “Always remember that us older guys are watching, and that they owe their full commitment, attitude and dedication. They got to play RAM TOUGH football. Go Rams!”
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