By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After only 26 seconds into Clemson’s opener versus the Troy Trojans, Clemson fans witnessed the Tigers phenom receiver Sammy Watkins first hand as he hauled in a pass from quarterback Tajh Boyd and turned on his engine, blowing past defenders and into the end zone.
This touchdown reception by Watkins broke the record set by Terry Allen in 1987 when Allen rushed for his first career touchdown as a freshman with 8:53 to go in the first quarter. Watkins ended his debut with 7 receptions for 81 yards, breaking records set for both receptions by a freshman in first career game and yards.
Was today’s performance better than Watkins thought his debut as a Tiger would turn out?
“Yes, it was much better” Watkins said. “I was kind of shaky today running down the hill, kind of scared but then I pulled it out, got rid of the butterflies and felt comfortable on the field.”
Watkins’ first touchdown catch came on only the second play ran by Clemson in the ballgame, how big was the catch for Watkins?
“It was a great feeling just looking at the crowd, hearing everyone screaming,” Watkins said. “I thought it was a dream but my dream came true.”
Although the Tigers started off shaky in the first half, going into halftime trailing the Trojans 16-13, they bounced back in the third quarter scoring 30 points and holding the Trojans to only a field goal. What was the turning point for the team’s confidence?
“We accomplished a lot in the second half,” Watkins said. “We kept it going, never got down, the offense was a little bit shaken up in the first half, but we came out in the second half, adjusted a couple of things and came out onto the field after halftime pumped up and ready to go.
Watkins and freshman receiver Martavis Bryant and freshman running back Mike Bellamy compiled 287 of the Tigers 422 all purpose yards. What was it like for Watkins and the rest of the younger offensive players to carry some of the load right away?
“We’re just getting our feet wet,” Watkins said. “It’s really not that hard, we’re just falling into the system. You just have to keep going.”
Watkins gives his coaches credit for his successful debut, as they gave him great advice prior to the game telling him to block out the crowd and focus solely on his game.
What were Watkins’ nerves like before his debut in Death Valley Saturday?
“I couldn’t sleep,” Watkins said. “I stayed up all night, couldn’t sleep, took a 5 Hour Energy drink, it was crazy last night.”
Since last week, the team has practiced the play in which Watkins’ ended up scoring his first touchdown on Saturday. Was that touchdown run what he dreamed would happen?
“I knew that second play would be coming to me, and I did have a dream that I scored on the second play and it ended up being true.” Watkins said. “We’ve been practicing that play since last week and I told Coach that I would score on that play and he was confident that I would score on it and I did.”