Appearing in just his second NFL game, Chiefs seventh-round rookie Jaylen Watson delivered the biggest play of Thursday night’s win, taking the wind out of L.A.’s sails with a 99-yard pick-six, the first of his career.
Watson’s game-saving interception of Chargers Pro Bowler Justin Herbert was made all the more improbable by his circuitous path to the NFL, going, in a span of three years, from working with his mom at a Wendy’s in Augusta, Georgia, to fueling a fourth-quarter comeback in one of the most anticipated games of the 2022 season.
Lightly recruited out of Laney High School, Watson starred at Ventura Community College in California, eventually transferring to USC. However, Watson would lose his scholarship due to poor grades, never playing a down for the Trojans. All out of options, the 6’2” cornerback took a year off from football in 2019, working at Wendy’s to pay the bills before turning his career and life around at Washington State, where he was a two-year starter and honorable mention All-Pac 12 selection in 2021. The rest is history with Watson, playing in place of injured starter Trent McDuffie, picking Gerald Everett’s pocket for the second-longest interception return in Chiefs franchise history.
“I woke up knowing I was going to get a pick-six,” Watson told Hayley Lewis of KSHB 41 after the game. “As a seventh-rounder, I knew I’d be tested to come up big.”
Watson’s meteoric rise from the drive-through window to the pinnacle of America’s biggest sport is a testament to the 23-year-old’s will and determination, fighting tooth and nail for an opportunity that, at his lowest point in 2019, seemed like it would never come.