As a rookie in the NFL, Asa Watson didn’t quite stick. He’s hoping to change that in a new sport, venturing into NASCAR as a jack man for Roush Fenway Racing.
The former NC State star was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New England Patriots, where his brother Ben played for six seasons, before being waived. Watson then signed with the Dallas Cowboys, but was eventually cut.
Rather than giving it another go in the NFL, Watson made a radical move. The 25-year-old left the gridiron to find a home on pit row with RFR.
Starting his new career as a jack man, Watson got his start during actual races with the Budweiser Duels before the Daytona 500. Serving on veteran driver Bobby Labonte’s crew, Watson got to see first hand just how grueling his new job can be.
“This was like a breeze when I first got there,” Watson said of being a jack man, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. “Once I started to actually do real stops, I was like, ‘OK, this is why you can only do a few stops,’ because you’re jumping off a concrete wall onto the concrete ground and running around the car. It tends to take a lot out of you.”
During his time with NC State, Watson had to undergo heart surgery, but fought through the health issues. His athleticism makes him a perfect candidate for the position after being a standout player for the Wolfpack.
Currently, Watson serves on Elliott Sadler’s pit crew at the Xfinity level. The RFR driver noted how the sport has changed in recent years to open the door for Watson.
“Before, you didn’t have to be an athlete; you just had to have car knowledge,” Sadler said. “Now, it’s so much different. It’s so competitive on pit row. We’ll teach you how to change tires, jack, gas, do all the things we want you to do. But you have to be an athlete.”
The NFL might not have worked out for Watson, but he’s clearly progressing in NASCAR already. Serving on a crew for a veteran driver like Sadler at the Xfinity level proves Watson has staying power.
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