2010-11: Cliff Watson play for Appleton United High School team in the WIAA of Wisconsin where the defenseman scored 18 goals along with 22 assists and 44 PIMs in 21 games. He was impressive enough for Ohio State recruiter in ask him to sign a commitment to their university at a very young age.
2011-12: Watson played his first season in the USHL with the Sioux City Musketeers where the big defender played the shutdown role and contributed eight assists and a minus 13 rating in 58 games. The Musketeers were swept 2-0 in their first round playoffs series by the Fargo Force. Watson was ranked 170th amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings and was selected by San Jose in the sixth round (168th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft.
2012-13: Watson played 62 games for Sioux City in his second USHL season. He scored 3 goals with 8 assists and was +10 with 65 penalty minutes. The Musketeers missed the playoffs after finishing sixth in the Western Conference. Watson de-committed from Ohio State over the summer after coach Mark Osiecki was released and announced he would play at Michigan Tech in 2013-14.
2013-14: Watson skated in 40 games for Michigan Tech as a freshman. He had 4 assists and was -2 with 30 penalty minutes. The Huskies finished fifth in the first year of the re-aligned WCHA; falling to Bowling Green in two games in a best-of-three conference quarterfinal series.
2014-15: Watson played in 40 of 41 games for Michigan Tech in his sophomore season. The second-leading scorer amongst defensemen for the Huskies, he scored 3 goals with 10 assists and was +6 with 47 penalty minutes. Michigan Tech was one of the nation’s top teams, winning 29 games for the first time since 1980-81. The Huskies finished second in the WCHA behind Minnesota State, receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA West Regional after falling to the Mavericks in the conference championship game. The Huskies lost to St. Cloud State, 3-2 in overtime, in a regional semifinal game.
Cliff Watson is a stay-at-home defenseman who likes to make it difficult for the opposition to play in his zone. He loves the tough stuff and excels at clearing the crease, even with bigger forwards in his midst. He needs to work on his skating and one-on-one battles with the puck (a product of his below average skating skills) and he will need to continue getting stronger to continue playing his style of game.
Watson enters his junior season at Michigan Tech in 2015-16 and should have a significant role as the Huskies try to match or exceed their impressive season from a year ago. Watson is a solid defensive defender at the NCAA level and must continue to improve his skating and mobility to be successful in that role in pro hockey.