Former USF defensive lineman Elkino Watson was killed early Sunday morning in a stabbing incident outside an Ybor City nightclub. He was 23.
Tampa Police confirmed Watson’s identity late Sunday morning. According to police, Watson and Desmond Horne, 22, were both stabbed near The Orpheum, 1915 East 7th Ave., around 3 a.m. in an incident that reportedly stemmed from an altercation outside the building.
Watson and Horne were transported to Tampa General Hospital where Watson later died. Horne, who tried out for the team in spring, was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
At the time of the incident, the club was hosting an unofficial after party event for USF’s 51-3 victory over Florida A&M on Saturday.
“We are deeply saddened and stunned by the tragic loss of Elkino Watson and the injuries suffered by Desmond Horne,” USF coach Willie Taggart said in a news release. “Kino was a tremendous young man with a great smile and a big heart who was very much loved by our USF football family and will be sorely missed. Our hearts hurt for his daughter and his family. The thoughts and prayers of our team and our University are with the Watson family as they deal with this terrible loss and with Desmond Horne to make a full recovery.”
Detectives are still searching for suspects. A $3,000 reward has been posted by Crime Stoppers for any information leading to their arrest.
Watson, a former four-star recruit out of Miami’s Booker T. Washington High, appeared in 45 games for the Bulls, concluding his career last season. As a senior, he had 36 total tackles and two sacks. Watson is ninth all-time in program history for tackles for loss (32.5) and was awarded the Defensive Line Award at the team’s postseason banquet in 2013.
Watson was invited to mini-camp with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted rookie in May.
“Kino was my first roommate for camp here at USF. Kinda showed me the ropes,” quarterback Steven Bench tweeted. “My heart is heavy with everyone else’s. It makes no sense #RIP53”
In a direct message to The Oracle, former teammate Todd Chandler, a fellow Miami native and USF defensive lineman, expressed shock over Watson’s death.
“‘Kino was a fun guy to be around everyone who knew ‘Kino know what you were going to get from him,” Chandler said. “(He was) a jokester – a big guy who could really dance. Someone who you knew always had your back no matter what.”
Athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement the school will work to provide support to student athletes who have been affected by Watson’s passing.
“There is nothing more profoundly tragic and sad than when a member of our student-athlete family, current or past, passes away or is seriously injured,” Harlan said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Elkino Watson and with Desmond Horne and his family as he makes his recovery. We will work closely with Coach Taggart and his staff to provide our football team and all of our USF student-athletes with the support they need during this very difficult period.”
A GoFundMe account has been opened in honor of Watson. All proceeds will go toward his funeral and supporting his two young daughters, Kennedy and Elkiria. For more information, click HERE.