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Illinois LB Tre Watson becomes Maryland's fourth FBS transfer

Illinois defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot celebrates with linebacker Tre Watson (33) after a tackle against Michigan State Nov. 5, 2016, in Champaign, Ill.
Illinois defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot celebrates with linebacker Tre Watson (33) after a tackle against Michigan State Nov. 5, 2016, in Champaign, Ill. (Stephen Haas / AP)

Inside linebacker Tre Watson announced on Twitter Friday that he is planning on transferring from Illinois to Maryland. Watson, who graduates this month, will be eligible to play in 2018.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Watson became the fourth player in the past four months from another Football Bowl Subdivision school to transfer to Maryland for next season.

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As a junior, Watson finished tied for eighth in the Big Ten with 102 tackles, one more than Maryland counterpart Jermaine Carter Jr. Watson had a career-high 16 that season in a win over Michigan State.

As a junior, Watson’s season was interrupted when he had knee surgery and missed three games in late October and November. He finished with 65 tackles, with 12 each in the season-opening win and the season-ending loss to Northwestern.

The Maryland football team signed 22 players, including 15 from the DMV, to its 2018 recruiting class Wednesday.

Watson will be counted on to give experience to a linebacking group that lost Carter, Shane Cockerille and Jalen Brooks. He has a chance to start alongside rising junior Isaiah Davis, who took over while Cockerille missed most of the season on suspension.

Watson joins former Auburn defensive end Byron Cowart, who signed a letter of intent on Wednesday, as well as former Utah State wide receiver Rayshad Lewis and former Florida State cornerback Marcus Lewis as transfers.

Cowart will be eligible after leaving Auburn in early September and finishing the season at a junior college in Florida. Rayshad Lewis, the son of Ravens’ legend Ray Lewis, as well as Marcus Lewis, transferred to College Park last summer.

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