MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Fresh out of a 30-odd-minute press conference, Sammy Watkins eased his way to his spot in the visiting locker room of Sun Life Stadium.
"My ribs," he said with a groan, "I can barely breathe."
The hurt-inducing hit? His school-record 16th catch of the night. That, however, wasn't his worst fear. A hit earlier in the game had him thinking serious knee injury.
Morris reflects on Boyd, Watkins' careers
"My cleat got stuck in the ground and the cornerback went inside and shot back out and I basically fell," Watkins said. "I thought I almost tore it. I was definitely shocked, but it didn't tear anything."
And all of this with a presumed NFL draft jump announcement coming next week – Tuesday to be exact - the junior said postgame.
"Me and coach will talk about that in the media,” Watkins said. “It won't be a hard decision, but we'll definitely talk about it. I've made my decision, but I definitely want to have respect for the coaches about the situation and what will happen after this game."
He was asked about the decision in the press conference earlier, which prompted a fun back-and-forth with Tajh Boyd to his near and Dabo Swinney to his far left on stage.
"We'll definitely break everything down, the scenarios," Watkins said and then Swinney piped up, "It will be a short conversation, real short conversation, if he's going to talk to me."
Joking later, Swinney said he could speed up the incentive process if that will bring him back.
"All our seniors ride first class," he said. "There's going to be some extra seats going back, so we might let old Sammy slide up there tomorrow, see how he does, see if he's ready for that."
Watkins went into Clemson football's nightcap with a slew of records in range before any premature end to his college career - and he got all of them, with room to spare where he'll have them for a long time.
Carrying the all-time receiving record into the game (now 3,397 yards), he proceeded to rewrite the school books then in single-game catches (16) and yards (227; also an Orange Bowl mark) - and single-season touchdowns catches (27), catches (101) and yards (1,464). It was his second 200-yard game and 15th contest with 100 or more.
"All through the week, we've just been preparing the right way and coaches putting us in the best situations," Watkins said. "We had (time) to prepare for this team. We knew what we could do and can't do."
Part of that prep was the short passing game, which netted quite a few of the 200-plus yards.
"They gave us a lot of soft coverage towards Sammy," Swinney said, "And we were just trying to just take advantage of what's there. Guys did a great job of blocking on the perimeter."
With junior star Ohio State corner Bradley Roby out (knee), an innate mismatch every time Watkins steps on the field just became worse.
"We saw the young cornerback out there and how far he was off us," Watkins said. "I think the wide receivers and tight ends did a great job of blocking down field and coach did a great job of just coming back to the same thing giving us success.:
Ever the "low-maintenance superstar," as pegged by Swinney earlier this season, Watkins couldn't talk much about his accomplishments postgame without again pointing towards his supporting cast.
"It means a lot," Watkins said, "but the offensive line and the coaches put me in the best situation to make plays. Definitely blessed with great coaches and a great quarterback these past three years.
"It's not all about me, and it's definitely the offense that coach (Chad) Morris is running. It's an honor to break all those records, but it's great to definitely do it with the team and have the success with the team."