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Gophers hire Steve Watson as new WR coach

Tim Brewster once again goes back to the NFL to hire an assistant coach. This time former Denver Bronco wide receiver and coach, Steve Watson is the man charged with teaching the young Gopher receivers.

The official release...

University of Minnesota head football coach Tim Brewster announced today that Steve Watson has been hired as the Golden Gophers' new wide receivers coach. Watson has eight seasons of coaching experience in the National Football League, as well as an outstanding nine-year career as a player.

"Steve and I coached together with the Denver Broncos and in that time I developed a real admiration of him as both a coach and a person," Brewster said. "He is an outstanding teacher of fundamental wide receiver play and I expect our players will benefit greatly from his experience. I am very excited that he has agreed to join our staff."

Watson coached with the NFL's Denver Broncos from 2001-2008. He was a defensive assistant in 2001 and 2002, before moving over to the offensive side of the ball. Watson was Denver's wide receivers coach from 2003-2006. He held the title of associate head coach from 2007-2008. Watson and Brewster were on the Denver coaching staff together in 2005 and 2006.

"It's not often that you get an opportunity to coach in the Big Ten," Watson said. "I'm very familiar with the Minnesota football program. I'm very excited to team back up with Coach Brewster. After coaching with him in Denver, I know what football means to him. It's physical, it's fun and it's getting after people. I'm really thrilled about this opportunity."

In his four seasons as wide receivers coach, Watson helped three different players record a total of four 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Rod Smith (2004, 2005), Ashley Lelie (2004) and Javon Walker (2006) all had 1,000-yard receiving seasons under Watson's tutelage.

Smith was a Pro Bowl selection in 2005. Lelie led the NFL in yards per reception average in 2004 (20.1 ypr) and 2005 (18.3). Walker had a 1,000-yard receiving season just one season after missing all but one game with an ACL injury.

Under Watson's guidance, the Broncos' wide receivers helped Denver to a No. 6 ranking in passing offense in 2004. The 3,999 yards Denver passed for that season was the fourth-most in franchise history. The Broncos' offense ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in total offense in three of the four years that Watson coached the receivers.

In addition to his coaching career with the Broncos, Watson is also one of the most popular players in team history. He played wide receiver for Denver from 1979-87, finishing his career with 353 receptions for 6,112 yards (17.3 avg) and 36 touchdowns. He ranks fifth on the Broncos' career list for receiving yards, seventh in receptions and eighth in touchdown receptions.

Watson was a Pro Bowl selection in 1981 and was a member of Denver squads that played in Super Bowl XXI (1986) and XXII (1987).

Watson had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons (1981, 1983, 1984). In 1981, he tallied career-best numbers for receiving yardage (1,244), touchdowns (13) and yards per reception (20.7). He pulled down a single-season best 69 receptions in 1984. Watson totaled 16 100-yard receiving games and had a streak of 49 games with at least one reception during his career.

Watson joined the Broncos as a free agent from Temple University in 1979. He was a four-year letterman with the Owls and played in the East-West Shrine Game to close out his career. He also earned three letters and won two conference championships as a long jumper on the Temple track and field team. Watson graduated from Temple with a degree in parks administration.

The Baltimore native was born May 28, 1957. Watson was a three-sport star at St. Mark's High School in Wilmington, Del. He and his wife Pam have two daughters (Brittany, 23 and Rachel, 20) and a son (Stephen Ross Jr., 21). Their son plays defensive end for the University of Michigan, where he will be a junior in 2010.

There are a number of talented and young receivers ready for Watson to teach them a few things about running clean routes and separating from the secondary.