It's official: Sammy Watkins to turn pro

Orange Bowl - Sammy Watkins catches a 30-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter

Photo by Mark Crammer

Orange Bowl - Sammy Watkins catches a 30-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter

Three practices into his first fall camp, Sammy Watkins had a starting job.

Three years into his college career, he owns most every Clemson receiving record and is ready to take his next step – the NFL, he announced Monday.

"I am very thankful for the past three years at Clemson University that have enabled me to grow academically, athletically, and spiritually," said Watkins via press release. "After much prayerful consideration, I have decided to take the next step in pursuing my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL.

"I would not have this opportunity without the support and encouragement of my family, coaches, teammates, and the best fans in college football. No matter where my next steps may lead, I will always take pride in the PAW and will forever be a part of the Clemson family."

Watkins is projected currently as a top-seven pick in May's NFL draft by CBSSports.com. According to multiple reports, he has signed with Relativity Sports, which represents Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Crabtree and Dez Bryant among more top pro receivers and athletes.

Going out on top only goes so far in describing the south Florida native's finale, both in the Orange Bowl and 2013 as a whole.

Closing his career instrumental in the 40-35 win over No. 7 Ohio State, Watkins set single-game Clemson and Orange Bowl records in receptions (16) and yards (227), adding one breakaway score and another touchdown catch that made ESPN SportCenter's top-10 plays.

What Clemson records he didn't already own, he had as evening turned to early morning, capturing predecessor DeAndre Hopkins' single-season receiving (1,464) and tying his career touchdown mark (27). He finished with 12 touchdown receptions on the season, which equaled his breakout freshman campaign.

Watkins was one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award this season, which is awarded to the nation's top receiver.

"It means a lot," Watkins said in the locker room Friday, "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."

All in all, he leaves TigerTown with 23 school records - 19 of which were set this season via single-game (2), season (7) and career (10).

Watkins was named first-team All-America by at least one organization each year of his career, a Clemson-first. He totaled 5,129 career all-purpose yards, which is second only to C.J. Spiller in school history (7,588).

Losing Watkins and Martavis Bryant early, the Tigers face replacing almost 53 percent of their 2013 receiving yards and 49 percent of the touchdown receptions.

Clemson Records Held by Sammy Watkins (23)

Single Game (4)

Receptions: ^@16 vs. Ohio State, 2013

Reception Yards: 227 vs. Ohio State, 2013

Reception Yards in Half: 177 vs. Wake Forest, 2012

All-Purpose Yards: 345 vs. Maryland, 2011

Season (9)

Receptions: 101 in 2013

Receptions/Game: 7.8 in 2013

Reception Yards: 1,464 in 2013

Reception Yards/Game: 112.6 in 2013

100-yard Receiving Games: 8 in 2013

Consecutive 100-Yard Games: #3 in 2013 (twice)

Kickoff Returns: 33 in 2011

Kickoff Return Yards: 826 in 2011

Receptions 90 Yards or More: 2 in 2013

Career (10)

Receptions: 240 from 2011-13

Receptions/Game: 6.67 from 2011-13

Reception Yards: 3391 from 2011-13

Reception Yards/Game: 92.2 from 2011-13

Touchdown Receptions: #27 from 2011-13

100-Yard Receiving Games: 15 from 2011-13

150-Yard Receiving Games: 7 from 2011-13

1000-Yard Receiving Seasons: #2 in 2011 and 2013

Years First-Team All-American: 3, 2011-12-13

ACC Receiver of the Week Selections: 7, from 2011-13

#Tied Record

^Tied ACC Record

@BCS Bowl Record

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Comments » 3

essoclub writes:

Congrats to Sammy. I can't wait to see him play on Sundays. It will be awesome to have Sammy & Nuk making crazy catches for NFL teams next season.

The Raiders have the 5th pick in the NFL draft, so there is a chance that Sammy will be lining up next to Jacoby Ford at WR. I doubt that Sammy will still be on the board by the time the Raiders make their selection, but I know that he will crush it in the NFL, regardless of where he lands.

brookesdad729 writes:

Congrats to you Sammy! We will definitely miss you in Tiger Nation! You're an awesome individual who didn't let a bump in the road knock you off course. That's resiliency and that's the difference between men and boys! Sammy has some of the best hands I have ever seen and it was just a work of art to watch him just pluck the ball out of the air! I wish you the very best at the next level! God bless and Go Tigers!

f8thwlk writes:

I never saw him catch the ball with his body, not once, he always caught it with his hands. One of the best receivers I have ever seen at the college level. Great speed, great hands, great physical toughness (many times I saw him just run over a cornerback after catching the ball), he never shied away from physical contact. Along with everything else, it seems like he has the support of his family (They moved to SC to be with him after he got in trouble)which is oftentimes the make or break difference. Certainly one of the all-time greats to ever wear the Orange. Best of Luck. My Man...

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