Tigers' humble superstar just wants to make somebody better

'Steady' has always been Sammy Watkins' way of going about his business

This May 6, 2014 photo shows NFL Draft prospect Sammy Watkins, a wide receiver from Clemson, during an interview at the 5th Annual NFL Pre-Draft Gifting & Style Suite at the Sean John show room in New York. Watkins is among dozens of prospects on the National Football League's annual draft, with 32 players per round and seven rounds, beginning Thursday night at Radio City. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

This May 6, 2014 photo shows NFL Draft prospect Sammy Watkins, a wide receiver from Clemson, during an interview at the 5th Annual NFL Pre-Draft Gifting & Style Suite at the Sean John show room in New York. Watkins is among dozens of prospects on the National Football League's annual draft, with 32 players per round and seven rounds, beginning Thursday night at Radio City. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Sammy Watkins isn't worried about how high he'll be selected in the NFL draft Thursday night, just how he'll continue to keep improving for the team that picks him.

Watkins has carried a steady approach to football and his performance since he picked Clemson after being one of Florida's top high school players — and says that won't change in the pros.

This past Saturday, Watkins attended a high-school fundraiser put together by his agent, Tory Dandy, and signed autographs two chairs down from South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Watkins, considered a possible top-5 selection, has been projected as high as No. 2 to St. Louis.

"I don't have too much to stay about that," Watkins said with a smile about possibly being the top pick. "If I go number one, that's fine. If I go number five, that's fine. I can only control what I can control and that's on the field."

That's also where Watkins has excelled.

He was a breakout star as a freshman in 2011, helping Clemson to its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in two decades. He caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning a spot on the AP All-America team along with several other honors.

Watkins highly anticipated sophomore season was short-circuited before it began with a drug arrest in the spring of 2012. That led to a two-game suspension from coach Dabo Swinney and a season in which Watkins had 57 catches for 708 yards and three TDs.

It was a performance that humbled even the mild-mannered Watkins, showing him how quickly dreams of success can fall apart.

"It helped me out growing up and trying to become a great man," he said.

Watkins certainly became an even greater player in his final year with the Tigers. He set single-season Clemson records with 101 catches and 1,464 yards, and matched his freshman output with 12 touchdowns.

Watkins capped his college career with another record-setting show with 16 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-35 Orange Bowl win over Ohio State, Clemson's first-ever win in a Bowl Championship Series game.

As expected, Watkins declared for the NFL draft a few days later and dove headfirst into workouts to prepare for the NFL combine where he put up a quick time of 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash. But along with Watkins' speed comes a power that lets him muscle away from defenders and break into the open field. He showed that from the start of last season with a 75-yard touchdown catch and run in Clemson's 38-35 win over Georgia in the opener, running through one tackler and away from three more.

"It's just something I've always done," Watkins said.

While several prominent prospects — think Clowney and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel — have had their games dissected and characters poured over by pro evaluators and media, Watkins has been universally praised for his attitude and ability.

"Sammy, from day one, has been what Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says, a humble superstar," said Dandy of Relativity Sports.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features