Tigers preparing for life without Sammy Watkins

Football  - Sammy Watkins runs for a 44-yard touchdown in the third quarter

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - Sammy Watkins runs for a 44-yard touchdown in the third quarter

By all accounts, Clemson will be losing the most prolific receiver in school history...for a second consecutive season.

But thanks to recruiting – both of the top and under-the-radar talents – the Tigers will be just fine come 2014.

Assuming Watkins is the only departure, Clemson brings back almost 65 percent of its '13 yards (64.2) and 62 of the touchdowns. Back in the mix will be speedy 6-4 receiver Charone Peake, after a knee injury cut his season short after only two weeks.

"We have a lot of talent," junior receiver Adam Humphries said. "Obviously Mike Williams is making a lot of big plays. We'll have Charone Peake back. We all know what he can do. G-Hop's rising to the occasion as a redshirt freshman. We'll see with the young wide receivers coming in the spring what they can do.

"I think we have a bright future at the wideout position."

That group of incoming freshmen are all enrolling early in four-stars Artavis Scott (5-10 175, Tarpon Springs, Fla.), Demarre Kitt (6-1 182, Tyrone, Ga.) and Kyrin Priester (6-2 185, Snellville, Ga.).

Humphries, meanwhile, stands to be the old man in the group.

"It was really weird not playing with Nuk (Hopkins) this year," he said. "Being on the field with him all the time, you get used to communicating with him. Me and Sammy have been playing together for three years so it will be really weird not playing with him."

The Dorman product has increased his production level each season, totaling the Tigers' second-most catches (41) and third-most yards (483) on the year.

His head coach earlier in the season, and teammate Sammy Watkins more recently, have reiterated Humphries' pro potential as a versatile receiver and a solid option on special teams.

"Hearing that from another player who's obviously going to have a long career in the NFL – it means a lot," Humphries said, “from all of the hard work I've gone through being a freshman all the way to now. Getting that respect from other players is pretty cool."

Coming in as unheralded prospect, he's happy to readjust his after-Clemson plans.

"Honestly coming into college, I never thought about it," said Humphries, "but as I continued to grow in the system and perform on the field, it's obviously in the back of my head. Now that people are saying it, I guess it's something I would like to do and I'm going to continue to work to get there."

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Comments » 27

clmtgr92 writes:

I noticed that one particular name was not mentioned in this article. I guess we can infer from the absence on mention that Mr. Bryant will be opting for the NFL.

BrandonRink writes:

Actually the opposite in my opinion...he said a 4th/5th round or worse grade from the NFL draft advisory board would keep him in TigerTown and I don't think he's going to get 2nd/3rd or better.

TigerFan95 writes:

As much as I like Sammy, I feel confident we'll be just fine without him. Our biggest loss by far will be Thomas at LT..We've proven that we can recruit and develop quality WRs, but with each passing year under Dabo I grow less and less confident in his ability to do the same with O-linemen.

tigerrob44 writes:

I'm gonna miss Sammy as much as anybody or probably more than most. This article is not about our O line but I can't help but ask what's so bad about them. We had a good running game just a better passing game. If we had to run the ball 40 times a game to win we probably could have. We just have such a good passing game we passed to win. Look at the numbers of our rushing game. They were pretty good. Rod McDowell almost rushed for 1,000 yards I think. We weren't so bad on the O line.

TigerNE writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

As much as I like Sammy, I feel confident we'll be just fine without him. Our biggest loss by far will be Thomas at LT..We've proven that we can recruit and develop quality WRs, but with each passing year under Dabo I grow less and less confident in his ability to do the same with O-linemen.

Isiah Battle could handle the LT spot. And I guess we'll get a chance to see how well McLain handles the position in the bowl as I'm sure he'll sub for Thomas at times. But we are shallow in tackles and don't know how Morris will step up to the next level. Can Shaq Anthony be versitile enough? He is improving.

But we do have Falcinelli coming in - could he start if absolutely needed? Or Taylor Hearn?

TigerNE writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

Actually the opposite in my opinion...he said a 4th/5th round or worse grade from the NFL draft advisory board would keep him in TigerTown and I don't think he's going to get 2nd/3rd or better.

I've seen a number of mock drafts that don't put Bryant any higher than 4th round. And I've seen a few 2014 WR assessments that put him blow the top 30, which means there are more than enough ahead of him to keep him from being a fluke selection in the first 3 rounds. Depending on whose opinion or analysis you like, most all think you have to be in the top 15 or at worst top 20 of in the WR category in order to go very high in 2014.

If I were to bet, I'd bet we'll see Bryant next year. And I'd bet even more that he'll have a breakout year. He will be more motivated than ever.

BrandonRink writes:

What'll be interesting to me is the WR rotation post-Watkins...

If Bryant is back, is it Bryant (boundary, 9-man)-Humphries (field, 2-man) - Peake (5-man)? I imagine Mike Williams will play a bunch spelling Peake/Bryant.

Humphries has been a guy who's played a lot of snaps, but never really held down a starting spot without injuries being a factor. Swinney believes in him, but you wonder how much playing time he shares with Germone Hopper or maybe a T.J. Green/freshman.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to tigerrob44:

I'm gonna miss Sammy as much as anybody or probably more than most. This article is not about our O line but I can't help but ask what's so bad about them. We had a good running game just a better passing game. If we had to run the ball 40 times a game to win we probably could have. We just have such a good passing game we passed to win. Look at the numbers of our rushing game. They were pretty good. Rod McDowell almost rushed for 1,000 yards I think. We weren't so bad on the O line.

99th in sacks allowed per game..112th in tackles for loss allowed per game...60th overall rushing...100th in rushing yards gained inside the opponents red zone...43rd in red zone scoring percentage..31st in red zone TD conversion percentage...41st in 3rd down percentage..34th in 3rd down conversion percentage with 3 yards or less to gain..Do these stats sound like a championship caliber team with a good O-line? With our weak schedule we should dominate them..Auburn, a team that runs the same offense we do, against a much tougher schedule no less, is ranked number 1 in most them..Why is that?

TigerNE writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

What'll be interesting to me is the WR rotation post-Watkins...

If Bryant is back, is it Bryant (boundary, 9-man)-Humphries (field, 2-man) - Peake (5-man)? I imagine Mike Williams will play a bunch spelling Peake/Bryant.

Humphries has been a guy who's played a lot of snaps, but never really held down a starting spot without injuries being a factor. Swinney believes in him, but you wonder how much playing time he shares with Germone Hopper or maybe a T.J. Green/freshman.

If "field, 2-man" translates to short field or inside receiver, I agree that seems to be Humprhies' primary strength. And he is above average on ST. But none of this matters unless he starts to protect the ball better in key games.

And I also wonder if he starts in every game next year. I think he'll be on the chart but maybe not always first position.

TigerNE writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

99th in sacks allowed per game..112th in tackles for loss allowed per game...60th overall rushing...100th in rushing yards gained inside the opponents red zone...43rd in red zone scoring percentage..31st in red zone TD conversion percentage...41st in 3rd down percentage..34th in 3rd down conversion percentage with 3 yards or less to gain..Do these stats sound like a championship caliber team with a good O-line? With our weak schedule we should dominate them..Auburn, a team that runs the same offense we do, against a much tougher schedule no less, is ranked number 1 in most them..Why is that?

Sure, those stats prove we have a weaker line than we need. But they don't prove much more. And Auburn is NOT ranked so highly. Are you really an AUBURN Tiger fan?

ND is ranked much higher in sacks allowed. How has that helped their ability to gain yards? They are 75th. Auburn is one spot above us in total yards at 11.

Auburn is the top rushing offense, but ranked very low in passing. It has as much to do with their skill players as it does with their line strength.

Auburn is below GT in red zone conversions. BC is #2. So? Last year we were #1 in red zone conversions. Was our line that superior?

I don't disagree that we need to improve our O line. But it isn't as bad as you may want your cherry picked stats to suggest. Our success this year is just as much a factor of turn overs and some "rusty" offensive starts as it is due to a less than....um, SEC caliber O line in my opinion.

tigerrob44 writes:

In response to Tigerfan95. Those stats don't mean a thing. Didn't we average 500 yards total offense per game and 40 points? Somebody must have been doing something right for us to gain so much yardage and score so many points! And our number one tailback rushed for about 1,000 yards, so all those stats you quoted are a bunch of junk. Numbers do lie and that is a fact but the old saying is numbers don't lie. We outgained SC and stopped them cold but lost by 14 points. Oh, yea, turnovers is the one number that speaks to the outcome of a game more than any other.

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to tigerrob44:

In response to Tigerfan95. Those stats don't mean a thing. Didn't we average 500 yards total offense per game and 40 points? Somebody must have been doing something right for us to gain so much yardage and score so many points! And our number one tailback rushed for about 1,000 yards, so all those stats you quoted are a bunch of junk. Numbers do lie and that is a fact but the old saying is numbers don't lie. We outgained SC and stopped them cold but lost by 14 points. Oh, yea, turnovers is the one number that speaks to the outcome of a game more than any other.

CU outgained USC by a whopping 30 yards. Didn't stop them when they should have stopped them...the 4th quarter. USC owned the 4th quarter in every phase of the game, just as they have for the previous 4 years. Good teams, with good defenses, cause turnovers, and then make you pay for it.

Eaglessoar20021 writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

99th in sacks allowed per game..112th in tackles for loss allowed per game...60th overall rushing...100th in rushing yards gained inside the opponents red zone...43rd in red zone scoring percentage..31st in red zone TD conversion percentage...41st in 3rd down percentage..34th in 3rd down conversion percentage with 3 yards or less to gain..Do these stats sound like a championship caliber team with a good O-line? With our weak schedule we should dominate them..Auburn, a team that runs the same offense we do, against a much tougher schedule no less, is ranked number 1 in most them..Why is that?

Stats don't lie. You speak the truth. O-line has been our weakness for a long time.

brookesdad729 writes:

in response to Eaglessoar20021:

Stats don't lie. You speak the truth. O-line has been our weakness for a long time.

I have to agree! Opposing teams got to Tajh too much over the year! Too many sacks by far! We tend to go too much for top offensive talent and not enough for top offensive linemen! That wouldn't be so bad if we could develop the talent that we bring in but we really haven't. The truth hurts sometimes and their are some on here that refuse to look at what really happened this year. Our defense kept us in ballgames that could have very easily gone the other way! We depended on the big play too much and for some reason would not rely on the running game and we did have one but for some reason we acted like we were scared to use it. Hot Rod should already be well over a 1000 yards to date but he's not. Why? Because we have too much finesse and not enough football! There is no way under the sun that we should have at least been 11-1 with the talent we have and with our schedule. FSU should have been our only loss and that shouldn't have been a blowout like it was. If we don't see that we need to come from under the rock we're living under! I love Clemson football as much as anyone on this site maybe more! I am however a realistic football fan/critic and will give both praise and criticism in equal measure when due. Too many turnovers, too many sacks! It didn't show up in some games cause the competition we played against was overmatched but it got exposed against the tough teams we played. UGA was our only quality win! I don't care who gets mad with me about my posts, I tell the truth. I was at that FSU debacle and it was a nightmare!

clemvol writes:

To me it will always be about the schedule. Throw in a couple of division II schools, a very very weak conference schedule and now you have a recipe for "over rated", "over confidence" and "over inflated stats". The difference between the Tiger and the criminoles this year is that Florida St. put a complete beat down on every team they played. ( No one needs to mention BC game, they simply sleptwalked through that game and still won ). We are as far as we are going to get with the current leadership.

TigerNE writes:

With some who comment here so convinced we are never going to improve and are at our limits - both in players we can recruit and coaching ability - I wonder if they will just give it up and swith their allegiance to FSU, or Bama, or some other team. The dispair grows with every "top" recruit who signs with another team.

FSU finally has a dominant season after 3 Jimbo Fisher seasons with 4, 4, and 2 losses and all of a sudden we will never be worth a flip again.

Even though the high school player ratings are more random and arbitrary to me, there is no doubt FSU is able to land good recruits. Whether or not they are better in all cases and positions, only time will tell. But we are on an upward swing in talent just like Fisher's FSU has been. While many of us agree we need to continue to increase our recruited linemen, I find it surprising that some don't seem to see the steady improvements we are making already. You'd think we were more at a UVA level in talent in some eyes. Me, I'll wait and see how guys like MacLain and Battle play in the OB. And I'll also wait and see how much better (or not) we look with Morris/Crowder additions along with Boulware/Pagano/Ogundenko, etc. Or I could just give up like others, too.

tigerrob44 writes:

To the truth46: SC caused one of our turnovers. The other 5 were just bad plays by our offense. Everybody needs to get off our offense as being so lousy as a running team and anybody with a brain in their head had to see we threw the SC game away because of the first possession of the game and the 2 fumbled punts. That's why we lost not because SC was so great. Clearly we were the better team.

clemvol writes:

I like the optimism of a lot of folks but when you have been a fan ( and still am ) for 40+ years you have a lot of information to make comparisons. I guess there is nothing wrong with hoping and wishing but after getting a good measure you understand that reality will begin to sink in and call it for what its worth. After all of my rambling, ( and that's all we really do ),I do continue to want the Tigers and coaching staff to prove me wrong but one thing is for sure, I continue to refuse to wear the "rose colored glasses" and think everything is great and is getting better. Time will tell.

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to tigerrob44:

To the truth46: SC caused one of our turnovers. The other 5 were just bad plays by our offense. Everybody needs to get off our offense as being so lousy as a running team and anybody with a brain in their head had to see we threw the SC game away because of the first possession of the game and the 2 fumbled punts. That's why we lost not because SC was so great. Clearly we were the better team.

Rob, I totally disagree with you, and possibly you watched a different game than most of us. These teams were dead evenly matched headed into the 4th quarter. USC owned that last period, including keeping the ball for slightly over 11 minutes. They stripped the ball twice in the last quarter, and as we know, when pressured, Tagee will throw a pick. That was the game. As previously stated, good teams force turnovers, and then you pay.

TigerNE writes:

clemvol: ".... I continue to refuse to wear the 'rose colored glasses' and think everything is great and is getting better."

Just curious if you think it is getting worse. By what measure if so??

clemvol writes:

in response to TigerNE:

clemvol: ".... I continue to refuse to wear the 'rose colored glasses' and think everything is great and is getting better."

Just curious if you think it is getting worse. By what measure if so??

It will not get any better than what we have seen. The measuring stick to me is that you don't lose to your rival 5 times in a row (that's on the coaching staff not that the coots are better) you can also tell we are over rated on the national stage, but like I say "time will tell" and I will be the first to eat crow (and I hope I do). How about anyone else?

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to clemvol:

It will not get any better than what we have seen. The measuring stick to me is that you don't lose to your rival 5 times in a row (that's on the coaching staff not that the coots are better) you can also tell we are over rated on the national stage, but like I say "time will tell" and I will be the first to eat crow (and I hope I do). How about anyone else?

Please tell me Clem...what does a coot have to do with a gamecock? I've asked here several times and no one responds. That would be like calling CU the puddytats. Also, the coots must be better, at least for now. Five wins in a row, all by double digits. But anyway, if you could answer the coot question, I'd greatly appreciate that.

TigerNE writes:

in response to clemvol:

It will not get any better than what we have seen. The measuring stick to me is that you don't lose to your rival 5 times in a row (that's on the coaching staff not that the coots are better) you can also tell we are over rated on the national stage, but like I say "time will tell" and I will be the first to eat crow (and I hope I do). How about anyone else?

I don't see your logic. Maybe it's more emotion after loosing so many in a row to SCar.

But I see plenty of room to CONTINUE the progress the Swinney teams have made. Just for example (my logic): Newer recruits like Battle and Crowder and Ogundenko to name just 3 have the potential to step up our line control on both sides of the ball. While the next Sammy isn't out there, our overall talent at WR and TE is improving in depth/volume. Peake and Williams and Hopper and maybe Green give us more than just one target. If Bryant returns, look out buddy. McCullough and Leggett give us a real chance to step up a notch or two on TE. We don't lack for QB talent, either.

clemvol writes:

in response to TigerNE:

I don't see your logic. Maybe it's more emotion after loosing so many in a row to SCar.

But I see plenty of room to CONTINUE the progress the Swinney teams have made. Just for example (my logic): Newer recruits like Battle and Crowder and Ogundenko to name just 3 have the potential to step up our line control on both sides of the ball. While the next Sammy isn't out there, our overall talent at WR and TE is improving in depth/volume. Peake and Williams and Hopper and maybe Green give us more than just one target. If Bryant returns, look out buddy. McCullough and Leggett give us a real chance to step up a notch or two on TE. We don't lack for QB talent, either.

The "flash and dash" offense just doesn't work. Throwing the ball deep having fast wide receiver or receivers run under it doesn't work on a consistent basis. Looking for the "home run" to shock and beat your opponent doesn't work. Having an offense that grinds and is consistent in ball control will work every time. Now for the defense: It's simply still not working. Either the game plan philosophy on both sides of the ball has to change or the leadership has to change. Anyone who's not had it and will not get over losing to our rival 5 times (which has never been done before) in a row doesn't understand that it is not acceptable. All that being said I am still ready to eat crow. Anyone else?

BlueRidgeBengal writes:

not sure how you can say the defense is not working when it has improved under Venables both years. the offense does work and well when we dont turn it over,but no team would survive 6 TOs. also, auburn is in the championship game with the same offense only their play calls are run heavy. its ridiculous to keep suggesting leadership changes though.

TigerNE writes:

clemvol: "The 'flash and dance' offense just doesn't work."

Now I get it. You just don't like the coaches, their style, and their game strategy. Even though stats disagree with you. Perhaps you think an offense that "grinds" is more important than yards, downs, scoring, etc. GT is a prime example of an offense that "grinds" and still isn't on the right side of scores often.

And Auburn is perhaps the best example this year of an offense that "grinds" and they are one spot behind us in points scored. So, it must be something in addition to grinding that makes for success. Fewer TOs would be a great start.

clemvol writes:

in response to TigerNE:

clemvol: "The 'flash and dance' offense just doesn't work."

Now I get it. You just don't like the coaches, their style, and their game strategy. Even though stats disagree with you. Perhaps you think an offense that "grinds" is more important than yards, downs, scoring, etc. GT is a prime example of an offense that "grinds" and still isn't on the right side of scores often.

And Auburn is perhaps the best example this year of an offense that "grinds" and they are one spot behind us in points scored. So, it must be something in addition to grinding that makes for success. Fewer TOs would be a great start.

And we scored the most points per game against who? And we had the most yardage against who? And we had an improved defense against who? It's not that I don't like the coaches, I am sure they would be the best neighbors you could ask for but I don't believe you pay mega salaries for so so results and not being able to beat your rival. Let's face the fact that the game against SC is and will always be the most important game you will ever play for so many reasons. If 10 win seasons against sc state, citadel, nc state, Virginia, BC is what anyone wants to hang their hat on then by all means go ahead and hang. I don't know of a single corporation where a rival company continues to own them that a change is not made. College Football is big business and when you win you have to win big. I dare say that most games Clemson played this year most folks still had the seed of doubt in their mind would they win the game and would they be able to put them away early. I sensed this same doubt in the coaches then it filtered down to the players. I don't care about stats against weak opponents. When I say "grind" that means ball control. Ball control means yards, 1st downs, scores. I would also venture to say that most teams Auburn beat would be able to beat most of the ACC schools. Florida State had the team this year that showed confidence, that knew it was better than any opponent, that knew prior to any game there was no doubt what the outcome would be. This is where Clemson needs to be, this is where they want to be. I have not seen Jimbo Fisher, Gus Malzon, Urban Meyer Nick Saban jump up and body bump any player after a good play. These guys have control of their team, have high expectations of their team, control their team but trying to be one of the guys don't work. Its a maturity thing. Again, the current leadership has this program as far as they will go right now. Something has to change, either the philosophy or the individuals. P.S. I am still wanting to eat crow but so far I have not seen the same from anyone else. Go figure.

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