Watts Dantzler’s late father still a major influence his recruitment

Earlier this week I wrote about elite offensive line prospect Watts Dantzler of Dalton and how much he’s enjoying the recruiting process. What I didn’t get into very much in that report was Dantzler’s relationship with his father, Danny Dantzler, who fought a valiant three-year battle with ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) before succumbing in February of 2009.

While Danny Dantzler is gone, he still has a strong influence on his son’s recruitment. A one-time recruit himself — he played offensive line at Georgia from 1971-73 — Danny Dantzler lived long enough to know his son was going to be a big-time prospect.

“He definitely does play a big role in [the recruiting process],” Watts told me. “He knew my freshman year, when I first started to get some interest, that I’d be a pretty big prospect. So we talked about it. He said he wanted me to do what was best for me.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a slam dunk for the Bulldogs.

“He really liked Auburn,” said Watts, a 6-foot-7, 310-pound tackle. “That was his final two, Georgia and Auburn. I like Auburn, too, so that’s pretty cool. And he went with me on a visit to Vanderbilt and he loved Vanderbilt. He said he took in the whole recruiting process, which is what I’m doing.”

That has opened Watts’ eyes to many possibilities.

“Obviously I grew up a Georgia fan because of my family,” Watts said. “But once I started getting recruited it kind of opened my eyes up. Growing up I was like, ‘Man, I love Georgia; they’ve got the nicest stuff.’ Then I went to Auburn and I was like, ‘Man, they’ve got nice stuff, too.’ Then you realize everybody’s got a great stadium and wonderful coaching staffs, you know.

“So my dad was happy whenever I got letters from any school. He was proud of me. But he said it was my choice. So I think anywhere I pick he’s going to be happy looking down from heaven.”

I decided to touch on Watts’ relationship with his father because I got responses from so many people who know the Dantzlers. They all talked about what an incredible person Danny was and what a profound influence he was on Watts (and daughter DeLancey). One of the first persons I heard from was Ray Goff.

The Georgia letterman and former head coach was very good friends with Danny Dantzler from the time they first met in 1973.

“I was a freshman and he was a senior and already married when I met him,” Goff said. “But he was just as nice as he could be to me even then. He was like that with everybody. That’s why everybody liked him so much. From the first day I met him ’til the day he died I never saw anything but a smile on his face. There is not a finer man I’ve met in my life than Danny Dantzler.”

After he was diagnosed with ALS and knew his fate, Dantzler vowed to speak to as many groups as he could about dealing with tough circumstances and not being afraid to die. Goff traveled with Dantzler often as he spoke at sports banquets, FCA functions and church groups about his situation.

“The title of his speech was ‘Why Not Me,’” Goff said. “Most people in that situation would say, ‘why me?’ Not Danny. He wasn’t going to feel sorry for himself. He was a devout Christian and believed he was going to go to heaven.”

In fact, Danny Dantzler actually started a blog to chronicle his journey. Called simply “Danny Dantzler’s Blog,” he cited scripture and commented on that and other writings that delved into the realities of life and death. He always signed his entries with, “I can almost hear the trumpet. Danny D.”

On Feb. 21, 2009, then 17-year-old Watts Dantzler wrote the next-to-last entry on Danny Dantzler’s blog:

Today my dad finally heard the trumpet.  I try to think of the good times that my dad and I spent together for my 17 years he was with me. Last night I was with my dad; we were watching a basketball game on ESPN.  As he usually does, he asked me if I had practiced basketball or lifted weights that day. I told him I lifted some weights. He was pretty excited about that.

I try to rejoice in the fact that my dad is finally home. I’ve spent three years knowing that he was going to die. Although he is dead, he is now truly living.  After the game was over I turned to the Golf network. I asked my dad who he thought would win the Masters; he got his board and wrote, “Tiger.” We both laughed. I left and told my dad I would see him tomorrow and I loved him. He gave me a thumbs up. I think my dad is on the golf course right now in heaven. I’m very thankful for all the wonderful times I got to spend with my dad: playing basketball, lifting weights, and watching football. I can’t describe how much I will miss my dad. I want to thank everyone who has put in so much time, prayer, and love.

–Watts Dantzler

90 comments Add your comment

hunkerdown

March 12th, 2010
5:18 am

Come play for the Dawgs!

hunkerdown

March 12th, 2010
5:25 am

Great article Chip. Sounds like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Jesup Dawg

March 12th, 2010
5:58 am

What a great read. I wish this young man the best what ever he chooses.

Woolly Butts

March 12th, 2010
6:00 am

Other programs have great stadiums and facilities, but they don’t have Stacey Searels to coach them up.

G8R H8R

March 12th, 2010
6:02 am

As a Dawg fan, I’d love to have Watts playing ‘tween the hedges, but I hope this kid really takes it all in and follows his heart and God’s lead in his recruitment. Watts, if you end up at UGA, that would be great, but I wish you good luck whatever you decide! Go Dawgs!

dawgerbrown

March 12th, 2010
6:10 am

As a DAWG, I would love to see him in Athens. Rgardless, it’s obvious, that with the kind of character he displays, he will be successful in life on and off the football field. Good luck to you Watts, I know your Dad is watching with pride.

Bamafan

March 12th, 2010
6:30 am

Where ever the young man decides to go to college good luck and have a great career.

south

March 12th, 2010
6:57 am

UGA is you’re home son…it always has been, but it will be good to go through this process and come to that same decision on your own

tenn.DAWG

March 12th, 2010
6:59 am

Hope he stays home,but I’m sure as long as he has his father’s blessing,he will be happy.

hop

March 12th, 2010
7:20 am

great story that speaks of a very special relationship between a father and his son.

GOD IS GOOD!

JB

March 12th, 2010
7:33 am

even if you end up at Auburn, Vandy……hell even Fla or Bama, we will all be proud of you………..Great read…..

Cherokee

March 12th, 2010
7:34 am

What a young man he is…. God bless you Watts Dantzler. Enjoy your time and good luck!!

stw

March 12th, 2010
7:35 am

Whatever school you attend I wish you much success. Do Dawgs…

70 Dawg

March 12th, 2010
7:37 am

WOW. Thanks, Chip. Watts, Pray for guidance. God won’t lead you wrong.

KB

March 12th, 2010
7:37 am

This is the type of young man we want blowing holes at UGA. If Richt can’t get this guy to ‘come home’……
Good luck to you Watts and wish you the best in your life and career.

Vick=Dog killing thug

March 12th, 2010
7:43 am

What a catch this guy will be. Hope its the Dawgs !!

ga gator

March 12th, 2010
7:47 am

Great article; this young man has his feet on Rock Solid Ground. He will make the right decision; God bless him.

lagadawg

March 12th, 2010
7:50 am

It’s true your Dad want’s you to go through the recruiting process,but I think most people will agree if you sign with the Dawgs,he will be looking down from Heaven with a Big Smile on his Face.

UGA75

March 12th, 2010
7:51 am

One of the most touching tributes I’ve ever read the AJC, I’m surprised it made by the censors. I’m close to the age my Father died, and remember every second of the last few weeks of his life. Those memories will sustain Watts until they are rejoined in heaven.

Young men of this caliber is really what UGA is all about under CMR. Danny will be watching from Heaven, where ever Watts attends and plays, but it would be wonderful to be able to watch his Son who he loved dearly and his Dawgs which he loved too at the same time.

59bulldawg

March 12th, 2010
7:53 am

JB . . . my sentiments exactly! What a quality young man!

#1 BAMA FAN

March 12th, 2010
7:55 am

This young man sounds like the kind of recruit the DAWGS should move to the top of their list. Good luck young man….RTR

FBR

March 12th, 2010
7:57 am

You don’t really understand the wonderfulness of Athens and UGA until you’ve been to school there. I wish there was a way I could enable these recruits to feel and experience it before they make their choice of schools. Ask anyone who has been there —-Dawgs Forever !!

flagboy?

March 12th, 2010
8:00 am

Sounds like a great kid and wish him a lot of luck at whatever school he ends up at.

RomeDawg

March 12th, 2010
8:06 am

When you read a story like that it puts everything in perspective. That was is a true display of courage by both. Regardless of where Watts ends up I will be following his career. I can’t imagine how proud his Dad is of him now.

Good job Chip! Thanks for the article.

Tim

March 12th, 2010
8:26 am

Great story! I’m happy for Watts, and I truly wish him the best, wherever he goes.

Tim

March 12th, 2010
8:27 am

I can definitely say that where ever this kid ends up, I’ll be rooting for him!

1eyedJack

March 12th, 2010
8:36 am

Just like his dad, he’ll make a “Damn Good Dawg”!!

dawgster

March 12th, 2010
8:40 am

One of the best articles i have ever read from the AJC no doubt… God Bless you young man…Thanks for the article Chip.

matt

March 12th, 2010
8:42 am

This is such a great story that all the UGA, FLA, and Bama fans are acting civil. Sounds like a great kid with a great future. Good luck to you and God bless.

GT45

March 12th, 2010
8:42 am

Goodluck, kid-

winterdawg

March 12th, 2010
8:42 am

Goodluck and make the best decision for you. You’ll always be welcomed in Bulldog country no matter you decision.

Dean

March 12th, 2010
8:43 am

I believe this young man will succeed in life in whatever he decides to do.

ArmyRangerDawg

March 12th, 2010
8:48 am

WOW…. Really should put football AND recruiting in it’s proper perspective…Thanks chip! GATA!

Joe Terror Shenski

March 12th, 2010
8:51 am

The article may have said it is not a Slam Dunk for Georgia but take it from someone in the Area that knew the Dantzler family and I say it is about as much as a sure thing for Georgia and it can get. His dad was a Dawg to the core and everyone knew it. In the end, Watts will wear the Red & Black.

kydawg

March 12th, 2010
9:00 am

I agree with all that say go with your heart and your father will be proud of you!!! Have a great life. Hop was right…Great article about a father/son relationship and God is Good!

jw

March 12th, 2010
9:01 am

That was an awesome article, thank you for sharing Danny and Watt’s story with us. I also want to thank Ray Goff for sharing his personal experiences as well. UGA was lucky to have Danny as a Dawg, he was an incredible man and has raised a great son who would make any father proud. He is the type of kid every University would love to have on their team as a player, leader and role model. I hope the Dawgs are LUCKY enough to have another Dantzler wearing the red black next year! Danny good luck in your life, you sound like a kid with a great head on your shoulders and I am sure you will make the best decisions for you, and your life.

quaildawg

March 12th, 2010
9:02 am

Thanks Chip for sharing this. I will reflect on this and Danny throughout the day (Why Not Me! Amen)
Heard Danny speak and even in his condition (which affected his speech) his message was inspiring, powerful and moving. He sang (spoke) His Eye is on the Sparrow and there was not a dry eye in our congregation, A man who truly lived his faith.
God Bless you Danny for your testimony

Tech Fan

March 12th, 2010
9:08 am

Two things…..It sounds like he’s a great kid with a very bright future ahead of him. And as much as I would like to dream that he would consider going to TECH……It sounds like he’s already a DAWG. Best of luck to the young man.

Paddy

March 12th, 2010
9:08 am

Great article and a great family. These are the types of people UGA needs to remain a great program. You will make us pround wherever you decide to go to school.

H-DAWG

March 12th, 2010
9:11 am

I hope this guy does well wherever he goes, but it just seems like UGA makes sense. Would make a great DAWG.

ASHEVILLE DAWG

March 12th, 2010
9:14 am

Go where your heart tells you.

still a dawg fan

March 12th, 2010
9:18 am

what a good kid who was raised by a great father

David

March 12th, 2010
9:26 am

I remember last year when I first had the opportunity to read the blog. I believe it had been linked in the Hive or maybe something from Lee University. I rode the emotional highs and lows as I read through the blog. I wish the blessings of the Father and your father upon you and praise the model that you were able to see through your earthly father. Good Luck and God bless you in whatever choice you make.

robodawg

March 12th, 2010
9:30 am

I really love the freedom his father gave him to make his own decision. He’d make a great dawg, but best wishes wherever he goes.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

March 12th, 2010
9:32 am

Do I get cited in the article for pointing you in Mr. Dantzlers blog? Thanks

BIGDAWG

March 12th, 2010
9:34 am

Man…Has UGA ever had a more sure thing in recruiting!!! No way this kid goes to Auburn or anywhere but good ol’ Athens. It is one thing to be a fan of one team but attend another school its quiet another to also go against your late father’s wishes!!!

Go DAWGS!!! WOOF WOOF

LOWNDES COUNTY DAWG

March 12th, 2010
9:34 am

GOD PLEASE HELP SAVE THE SOUTH

uga121

March 12th, 2010
9:34 am

If UGA really wants to improve they need to move Watts to the top of their recruit list based not on talent but completly on leadership. UGA would be blessed to have such a great player as well as a great role model play for them. Watts needs to be top priority! What a great young man!

Dawg Whisperer

March 12th, 2010
9:36 am

Great article! It’s a reminder that football is a part of life, not the other way around. Fortunately, his Dad set the right example.

collegeballfan

March 12th, 2010
9:50 am

I believe that whatever decision this young man makes, it will be the right decision for him. And that is what is important, making the right decision for yourself. Later one has a wife and family and they enter into decisions. But right now, at this time in his life, this should be his decision. And we fans need to respect that decision.