Ari Watford Preparing For Visit To Virginia Tech

Ari Watford
Ari Watford could be the top recruit in the state for the 2015 class. (@ari_watford)

Ari Watford
Defensive End, Class of 2025
Maury, Norfolk, VA
6-5, 220

This semester, class of 2025 defensive end Ari Watford is starting with a fresh slate. Not only is he turning the page towards his junior season, he’s also at a new school.

Watford transferred from Salem (VA Beach) to Maury (Norfolk) in time for the spring semester. He’s hoping the move will benefit him in a few ways. Watford said he believes his game will get a boost, but he also hopes his recruiting profile will follow suit. Right now, he claims 28 scholarship offers, including Virginia Tech, Georgia, Michigan and Penn State.

“I’m loving it and everything feels good over there,” Watford said of his new school. “I just moved, or my parents did. Football-wise, it’ll allow me to be the player I want to be. I wasn’t there yet fully. I’m hoping being at Maury will bring it out of me. Off the field, it’s a different experience. There’s new people, some football guys I’ve been around since I was younger, so it’s familiar faces. Ultimately, it feels like family.”

Virginia Tech was the second school (behind Pittsburgh) to offer Watford, under the previous staff in January of 2021. Coach Brent Pry re-offered the scholarship a year ago, and the Hokies have remained firmly involved since. But Watford said he’s also taken note of some of Virginia Tech’s recent additions, particularly in-state.

“The new coaching staff just got Antonio (Cotman) at corner,” he said. “It just shows no matter the talent, you bring guys who can recruit, they’ll come. I know players and all that. I don’t have any exacts off the top of my head, but I know Virginia Tech is a good school, a good college.”

It’s been a combination of assistant coaches JC Price and Fontel Mines, as well as Pry himself, from the Hokies. Watford said he’s enjoyed the development of their relationship since then.

“All three of those guys came to my previous school and talked to me,” he said. “I still get visits from them. I get a good vibe. I really like Coach Price. I’ve been talking to him for a couple of years now. Coach Mines, Coach Pry, they’re all good, genuine guys. They don’t sugarcoat anything. They tell you straight up what it is, and that’s what I like.”

Right now, the only firm upcoming visit is Jan. 28 for Virginia Tech’s junior day. Watford said he also will likely visit Virginia, as talks there have also gone well with assistant coach Chris Slade.

“Coach Slade, I love that guy,” Watford said. “That’s my guy. Just my relationship with him has continued to grow. I’ve seen what he can do with other guys at UVA. He just does great on the D-line.”

Because Watford doesn’t have any other upcoming plans, his recruiting process is a bit slower. He said he doesn’t have any standout programs to this point, but feels like he’s inching closer.

“My time is coming faster than I expected,” Watford said. “I’m fastly approaching my junior year, which is when guys start narrowing down the list of schools. Me trying to figure that out, I feel like I’m getting closer to finding out what my list is.”

Later this spring, Watford said he hopes to get an in-person look at more of the schools that have offered scholarships. But he’s also hopeful of more options. Either way, he’s looking over the same list of ideal criteria.

“My main thing is, I want to be somewhere that feels like