That comes at the “9” or boundary position in the Tigers’ hurry-up spread offense, taking over for NFL-bound Daniel product DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins.
Last season, Hopkins raised the bar in single-season marks in receiving yards (1,405) and touchdowns (18) among more records set by the Fort Myers, Fla. native the year before.
Morris says those kind of numbers go back to the relationship between a quarterback and receiver, which was evident between Hopkins and returning senior signal-caller Tajh Boyd in 2012.
“I think the biggest thing we’re trying to get with Sammy and Tajh is a great chemistry,” Morris said, “and I think that’s going to take time. Moving him to the boundary, it’s not going to happen in spring practice.
“It’s going to take well into the summer and it’s going to take hard, hard work for Sammy and Tajh and some of the receivers to get on the same page.”
The progress so far?
O-line depth, Watkins' move
“We’re not there right now,” said Morris. “We see spurts. We see flashes, but these guys have a lot of work to do this summer…This summer is going to be very critical for this offensive football team, and this team in general.”
It’s a process that Watkins recognizes, but is confident he will master.
“I know the plays,” he said, “but it’s a process of timing and knowing when he’s going to throw the ball. This spring we’ve been connecting a lot and making a lot of big plays. But we still have a lot more to work on with releases and knowing what to do on several coverages.
“But overall, we’ve been actually making a lot of plays – we’re not where he and Nuk were, but by the end of fall camp, I think we’ll be there.”
Watkins’ sophomore campaign troubles are well-versed, missing three games and playing injured or leaving early in several more, but he closed the regular season with 469 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the last four games.
The move, after compiling almost 2,000 receiving yards in two seasons, may seem strange. Morris, however, is seeing the potential for an even bigger season for his top target on the outside, along with other benefits.
“He provides a dynamic approach to that boundary,” Morris said. “It’s going to provide guys that aren’t going to be able to play him one-on-one.
“When you create a two-high look, it’s going to help your run game out (as well).”
Also, it hasn’t hurt that, in between workouts with pro teams, Hopkins has given the star junior some pointers on the new spot.
“It’s not about speed,” Watkins says he was told. “It’s about what you know and when to run fast and when not to run fast.”
Morris says o-line battles to continue on past spring: Clemson football got back to work Thursday night, after a second lengthy break mid-spring practice.
Morris, overall, is pleased after 10 sessions, with one more Friday, and four to come next week (including the spring game).
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Morris. “It’s been good. We’ve been able to see a lot of guys on some reps. (Getting) a lot of really good evaluation on some guys right now.”
He says the offensive line isn’t quite where he wants it, and it probably won’t be until fall camp.
“Right now, we’re struggling right now to get the continuity,” Morris said. “It’s been hard getting everybody at practice, whether we have a guy out because of class or this or that. Just getting the continuity.
“Finding that right five in there.”