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Watkins savors another chance at South Carolina


  by David Hood - Senior Writer - Friday, November 29, 2013 9:43 AM
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Watkins is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award

CLEMSON – Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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has set record after record during his Clemson career, and he still has a few more within reach with the two games left in the 2013 season.

This past week, the junior receiver out of Fort Myers, Fla., was named as one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given to college football’s top receiver, alongside Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.

In his future? The NFL Draft and the possibility that he will be a first round draft pick.

However, Watkins said this week that the records, the awards and a potential future in the NFL don’t mean anything as he prepares for Saturday’s game against the arch-rival South Carolina Gamecocks, a team that Watkins hasn’t beaten in two tries.

The Clemson program has lost four in a row to the in-state rival, and if the Tigers are to break that streak, Watkins will almost certainly need to have a statement kind of game.

“It’s got to be a statement game for me to make some plays and be that dominant player,” Watkins said earlier this week. “And I’m going to prepare the right way this week. Hopefully I can go out and make a lot of plays.”

Watkins vowed to make a statement this season, saying that he would bounce back from an average sophomore campaign that began with a suspension and ended with an injury on the second play of the bowl game.

Watkins has 1.144 yards and 10 touchdowns with 78 receptions. He leads the ACC in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns and is second in receptions. He is Clemson’s all-time career receiving yards leader and is only 15 receptions behind Aaron Kelly for the program’s all-time receptions lead.

He said that he understands that his next goal is knocking off South Carolina.

“We’ve been outplayed the past three years,” Watkins said. “They’ve played harder than us, they out-physicaled us. We’ve got to come into this game and do the things we haven’t done for the last three years. That’s prepare and execute the plays and be physical, and be prepared for what they’ve got on offense and defense.”

“I’ve got to go out there and perform every game. This is one of the biggest games of the year. This is who rules South Carolina. It’s not only big for us but for the Clemson fans and coaches. For the last four years they’ve beaten us, and we've got a statement to go out there and have fun and play, leave out with a win.”

Watkins had a chance to set the tone early at South Carolina two years ago – the Tigers trailed the Gamecocks 3-0 early, but on Clemson’s first offensive play, quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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hit Watkins in stride for what would have been a 65-yard touchdown and an early statement.

Instead, Watkins dropped the ball, and he has managed just eight catches for 76 yards over the two games he has played.

Watkins said that play is one that still haunts him.

“They did a lot of different things,” Watkins said. “They tried to take away one of us. Each year, me and Nuk (Hopkins) didn’t play good games. We played average. “I was a young guy, I knew that game was big. But at the same time, I’ve made so many plays at this university where I didn’t drop passes. I’ve put those things behind me and made up for it on the next play.”

Watkins said he is entering Saturday’s game with an aggressive mindset.

“It’s big to come in the game and make a lot of plays, put your name on the offense to where the coaches will keep giving you the ball,” he said. “I’ve got to go out there with great mentality, physical aspect, prepare the right way and go have fun. We can’t look at this game and take it too big. It’s the same game we played last year and the year before.”

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