Healthy Watkins ready to turn the page to 2013

by - Staff Writer -

Last season delivered a lot of struggles for Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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, but 2013 provides him the opportunity to turn the page and write a new chapter.

Watkins saw a lot of ups and down in 2012 – he was suspended for the first two games of the season, suffered an illness that sidelined him for a game, and was knocked out on the first play of the Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU.

Despite the trials and tribulations of 2012, however, Watkins said he is armed with a positive attitude and ready to make 2013 his best season to date.

“I just tried to stay positive throughout it. It blows,” Watkins told the media after Wednesday after Clemson’s first day of spring practice. “I just had to lean on my family and my teammates and coaches. I’m alright right now. I just have to see the positives in everything. It’s a new chapter and a new year. I’ve just got to go out and have fun and play my game.”

One of the reasons Watkins suffered a sophomore slump was because of his nutrition- or lack thereof- and with the addition of the PAW dining facility, Watkins said he is eating better and getting himself back in football shape.

“Sophomore year, I don’t think I ate right. I didn’t have time to eat breakfast and I gained pounds,” he said. “I feel healthy. I’m not frail or weak. I’m thicker and stronger. I’m just healthy and eat the right amount of meals instead of running through the entire day and going to classes and starving myself. I’ve got a good schedule so I can eat all of my meals- morning, lunch and supper in the PAW so I can stay healthy and fit.”

Watkins saw the impact that good eating habits had on DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins, and he hopes to have the same type of success.

“I think last year I was weak and I had nicks and bruises and injuries because I wasn’t eating right and I wasn’t healthy,” he said. “They stayed on my weight. Now I’m 210 or 208. I’m bigger and healthier. It’s the same thing DeAndre [Hopkins] did. He got bigger and healthier his junior year and that’s the same thing I’m trying to do.”

After returning to the lineup against Furman, Watkins said that the connection between quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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and Hopkins was evident and that he had to learn to accept his role and become a team player.

“I don’t think it affected me at all. It was pretty much a mental thing. I just think I was behind from the two games that I missed,” Watkins said. “I wasn’t practicing a lot. I just fell behind the system. Tajh and DeAndre [Hopkins] had a great connection going on and that happened throughout the whole season. I just had to accept my role. They were hot and had the connection. This year everybody is clear that I’m going to be there for the first two or three games and we’re going to see what happens.”

With Watkins finally healthy, he and Boyd are working to create that same type of chemistry, starting with spring practice.

“Just doing the things in practice. We changed plays up,” Watkins said. “We get the connection. He will give me a sign and I’ll be like, ‘okay, I got it.’ We connected two or three times today when we changed the plays up and the coaches didn’t even recognize it. They were like, ‘whoa, what happened?’ I made the play and he made they play so they were fine with it.”

Through his experiences, Watkins learned that he had to stay positive no matter the situation, and now he hopes that he can help his younger teammates work through any adversity they may encounter.

“I’m not a man of too many words, but now I’m talking and trying to help the young guys,” he said. “Even if it’s a bad situation, you still have to be positive. If you’re negative, bad things are going to happen. You have to be positive, go to work, and try to help everybody out. You still have to help other guys out, even if it’s a competitive thing because we have to be a team and have unity.”

Clemson lacked an explosive return game without Watkins in 2012, and he said that’s one area that he will focus on this spring.

“I just want to at least get out to the 50. It helps the offense a lot,” he said. “When we get tackled at the 25, it hurts offense. When you can get out to the 40 or 50, there’s an 80-percent chance of scoring with plays and the tempo. I say 10 or 11 plays and it’s a touchdown. This year our coaches are focusing on the return game- kickoff return and punt return. We just have to be prepared as returners and hit it.”

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