By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- It comes to no surprise to anyone that Clemson’s freshman receiver Sammy Watkins has earned the ACC Rookie of the Year along with Offensive Rookie of the year honors. Watkins so far this season has had 72 catches for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also broke the standing record set by CJ Spiller for all purpose yards in a single game when he gained 342 against Maryland earlier this season.
However, when asked about all of the accolades he’s received throughout the season including these two prestigious awards, Watkins didn’t seem at all caught up in all of the hype surrounding him.
“It’s a great feeling winning these awards but I’ve got an ACC Championship to fight for this weekend” Watkins said.
Watkins, instead of getting caught up in all of the statistics just likes to go out and play his best football, something that he’s done all season long as he has had 3 games with over 150 receiving yards.
After coming off a shoulder injury suffered during the Tigers’ contest with Wake Forest two weekends ago, it was apparent early as the Tigers’ faced foe South Carolina that Watkins was not 100%. He even dropped a sure touchdown pass which is very uncharacteristic of him.
“My shoulder was definitely bothering me during the South Carolina game,” Watkins said. “It’s feeling fine now though, there’s no pain, and I’ll continue to go through treatment this week and will be back to play in the ACC Championship game and play harder than I’ve ever played.”
Right off the bat, Watkins had an aptitude for the game that most true freshmen do not, something that he attributes to hard work in both practice, the film room, and on the field.
“I came out and started studying football and the playbook right off the bat,” Watkins said. “I just go out on the field every Saturday and play hard and that comes from practice, the weight room, film room, and just studying.”
The Tigers will face off against Virginia Tech in the Title game, a team that Clemson soundly beat 23-3 earlier this season. Although Watkins was quiet throughout the teams’ first meeting, he told the media Tuesday evening that he hoped they’d double team him like other teams the Tigers’ have faced have done.
“They always keep deep coverage on me,” Watkins said. “But if I go to Coach Morris and tell him what they’re doing on me we’re able to work around it. In this offense though there’s so many play makers that you can’t just stop one player, you’ve got to stop everyone.”
How does Watkins describe the recent struggles of the team? Are defenses catching on to Coach Morris’s tricky offense?
“Not really, we’re just not executing as a team,” Watkins said. “We’re not going out there and leaving everything on the line, we’re going out hesitant, losing our confidence and stuff like that. But we’re going to come out here this week and practice hard and then just go out and have fun during the game, play like we’ve played at the beginning of the year.”