By Gray Gardner.
Clemson, S.C. – Sammy Watkins met with members of the media on Monday to discuss his first game as a Clemson Tiger, his off-season preparation, the best game he ever played, and much more.
In his first college game, freshman wide out Sammy Watkins caught 7 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, a feat that put his name in the record books.
But surprisingly, the seven receptions were also a personal record for Watkins. The freshman said he didn’t really catch many passes in high school, and the seven receptions Saturday were probably the most he’s ever caught in a game.
“As far as in a game, I would say that’s the most passes I’ve ever caught in my career in one game,” he said.
Although catching several balls a game is new to Watkins, the freshman said he could easily get used to it.
“You just look at it like ‘I’m getting the ball, I’m getting the ball.’ That’s all you think about. ‘I’m getting the ball. I’ve got to make a play.’”
Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris prepared a comprehensive offensive script for last week’s game against Troy, so Watkins knew exactly when he was getting the ball.
“The first nine plays I knew I was getting the ball,” Watkins said. “You can tell what down and distance you know you’re getting the ball. First and ten I’m getting the ball, or second and four I’m getting the ball. Or third and three I know I’m getting the ball. Or the ball’s on the thirty yard line, I know I’m getting the ball.”
“(Morris) just goes through that script in practice so you know when you’re getting the ball.”
Watkins made a statement with his first career reception on a screen pass he took 33 yards for a touchdown. The Florida native said it was exciting, but he was used to the feeling.
“It felt great, but I was doing it in high school,” he said. “I was excited about my first college touchdown, but I was doing it in high school so I wasn’t too excited.”
“I was more excited about being there and about running down the hill and just playing with Clemson and with my teammates.”
The freshman said he’s never been one to celebrate after scoring, although his teammates tried to after his score.
“I never really celebrated in high school,” he said, although Watkins had more than enough to celebrate in high school.
Watkins spoke about his regional finals game in high school from a year ago, calling it the best game he ever played.
“It was a great game coming down to the last three minutes of the game,” he said. “We were losing 21-14 in the fourth quarter. We did a fake punt – which they knew we were going to do it – so I was like, ‘Coach we’re not going to do it, we’re not going to get it.’ But then we still tried it and we got it and I actually scored.”
Watkins’ scored tied the game at 21. Then, with around a minute remaining in the game, the opposing team was forced to punt.
“They actually punted the ball twice to me. The first ball they punted was a flag and I got tackled. They called offsides on the punt team. They had to back them up and they punted again.”
“The second time I took it for a touchdown and we won 28-21 in the fourth quarter.”
It’s safe to say he’s cool under pressure.
Watkins attributes much of his ability to perform on the field to the work he does off the field in preparation.
“It started early in the summer working out with the older guys and they were telling me the plays. I didn’t really have a notebook or anything, so I would go home and write it down.”
His homemade notebook gave him a jumpstart when August camp rolled around.
“(When practice started) I wasn’t just thinking about the plays, I was actually going fast and not worrying about the plays,” he said. “I came in quick with the ones and twos and just learned the whole offense.”
The freshman said that he was able to learn the offense quicker than most other freshmen, and that it’s paid off on the field.
“It really came fast because I was studying every night,” he said. “I came here when I didn’t have to. I came to the meeting room and just picked up the scripts and just ran through it.”
Sammy Watkins’ work ethic is nothing short of unheard of for a true freshman, and it doesn’t sound like he plans on slowing down any time soon.
“I’ve got to live up to a lot of expectations, so I’ve got to keep grinding every day.”
It’s safe to say that the Clemson football team has a bright future so long as Watkins is a part of it.