Watkins says last year doesn't matter, working to be even better in 2012

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Fr. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 200
Fort Myers, FL

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became a household name in 2011, setting records and seemingly making a highlight-worthy play every time he touched the ball.

Watkins had 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns and was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press, Rivals.com and Pro Football Weekly and he was just the third first-year freshman in college football history to win AP first-team honors.

He met with the media for his first extended interview this spring, and Watkins didn’t want to talk about last season or his awards or how good he thinks – or anybody else for that matter – how good he is.

Sammy just wants to get better.

“I’m just forgetting what I did last year,” Watkins said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’m finishing on the field. I’m working on the things I need to work on, being coachable, finishing, and being a leader. I just approach each day as I’ve got to work. I’ve got to get better, got to win today. Coaches and my parents keep me humble. Everyone around me keeps me humble, and I keep myself humble.”

Watkins was asked if he still had his trophies and awards from last season’s amazing run, and he said no.

“I never got the accolades,” he said. “I sent them off to my parents. I don’t see them. I don’t touch them.”

Watkins said he has dropped a couple of pounds – even though he looks stronger and bigger in his upper body – and said there is no part of his game that doesn’t need work when he was asked what he was working on this spring.

“Everything,” he said. “I’m not perfect yet. I don’t think anybody’s perfect. I need to get bigger where I can take hits, go to the next play without worrying about getting hurt. It’s little nicks and bruises, getting injured.”

Watkins injured his shoulder against Wake Forest in game ten last season, and he said Wednesday that he wasn’t healthy over the rest of the season.

“It was a tough thing to deal with,” he said. “I couldn’t give my team what I gave them in the first nine games. You could tell, and I could tell myself. I had to step up and do what I could.”

I asked Watkins if he there was any one play that he could remember not making that he immediately thought to himself, ‘I would have made that play if I was healthy’ and he said yes.

“I think we would have won that South Carolina game if I would have caught that ball in the end zone,” Watkins said. “If I would have caught it, it would have been a totally different game.”

Watkins had a chance to catch a long pass from quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS So. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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and score early in the game, but the ball slipped through his fingers and fell to the Williams-Brice turf.

Now, a healthier and stronger Watkins wants to be on the field for special teams as well as offense, and recently approached fellow wide receiver Nuk Hopkins and told Hopkins he wanted to take over on punt returns.

“I approached Nuk and told him I want the job,” he said. “He was like, ‘You can get the job.’ We’ve competed for it a little bit. I want to take over punt return, get a couple punts, get good field position, maybe take one or two back this year. That’d make us a better team, special teams and all over.”

Watkins was told that kickoffs this season will be moved from the 30 to the 35-yard line as the NCAA tries to eliminate some of the serious injuries that have occurred on special teams in recent seasons. The NFL did the same thing this past season, and there were far more touchbacks than in past seasons.

Watkins said the new rules didn’t matter to him, that as long as the kickoff didn’t go 10-yards deep in the end zone, he was bringing it out.

“I told coach, it doesn’t matter, I’m taking all of them out,” he said. “I’m going to get past the 20.”

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