Literally, from the first time he touched the football in a Clemson uniform, Sammy Watkins was electrifying.
Watkins said one of the best decisions of his life was coming to Clemson. That’s what the Kansas City wide receiver told the media prior to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV victory over the San Francisco 49ers this past February.
The Clemson standout caught five passes for 98 yards, including a 38-yard catch-and-run to set up the Chiefs’ game-winning touchdown.
Watkins came to Clemson from Fort Myers, Fla., where he was one of the best receivers in the country coming out of high school in 2011. By the start of his second practice, Watkins moved up to starter status, a spot he kept during his entire three-year career at Clemson.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound receiver later became a First-Team All-American after setting freshman and overall records for a wide receiver in his first year. In catching a then single-season best 82 catches for a record 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011, Watkins helped the Tigers win their first ACC Championship in 20 years.
“It was probably one of the best decisions I ever made in my life going there,” Watkins said about attending Clemson.
Watkins missed three games in 2012 and caught just 57 passes for 708 yards and three touchdowns. He then re-injured his ankle on the first play of the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU and did not return.
The disappointment of the 2012 season motivated Watkins in ’13, and he turned in a season that still has not been duplicated by a Clemson receiver.
Watkins set a Clemson record with 101 receptions for a record 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was once again an All-American and in his last Clemson game he set an Orange Bowl and Clemson record with 16 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns in leading Clemson to a 40-35 win over Ohio State. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player afterwards.
“I think Coach Swinney was one of the hardest persons (to get on me) in my life,” Watkins said. “Coach [Jeff] Scott, who is at USF now and is the head coach, Brad Scott, they all did a great job with me. I would not be here without those guys.”
Watkins finished his Clemson career with a program record 240 receptions for a record 3,391 yards. He is also tied for the career record for receiving touchdowns with 27.
“They helped me in every phase of my life as a man,” he said. “They were really hard on me. They are a part of my family now. I cannot thank those guys enough.”
Watkins played a big part in helping the Chiefs reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years when he caught seven passes for 114 yards, including the game clinching touchdown – a 60-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Championship Game.
In 2019, Watkins caught 52 passes for 673 yards and scored three touchdowns, while playing in 14 regular season games. In the playoffs, he recorded 17 receptions for 288 yards. He caught four passes for 114 yards against New England in the 2018 AFC Championship Game.
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