Sammy Watkins had a freshman season for the ages in 2011 for the Clemson Tigers. He became just one of four freshmen to ever be named to the AP first team All-American team and set expectations sky high for a repeat performance in 2012.
He failed to live up to those expectations, however, and suffered through a sophomore season of disappointment. With a year of experience and maturity now under his belt, though, Watkins should return to the top of college football and walk away with the Biletnikoff Award at season’s end as the nation’s top wide receiver.
There’s no denying he has the physical gifts to get it done. In his first season of major college football, Watkins was a force in the ACC, leading the team in receiving as he caught 83 passes for 1,225 yards and 12 touchdowns. He proved to be a dynamic talent who lined up all over the field, getting the football in every way imaginable, acting as a nightmare for defensive coordinators trying to gameplan for him.
But then he dropped off in 2012, failing to live up to the potential he had displayed the year before. A two-game suspension to start the season coupled with injuries, sickness and the breakout season of DeAndre Hopkins, undercut Watkins in his sophomore season and he finished the year with just 57 catches for 708 yards and only three touchdowns.
2013, however, is Watkins’ opportunity to prove just what he can do. Hopkins is off to the NFL, leaving the junior as the undisputed No. 1 receiver in the passing game. Additionally, Watkins is 100 percent healthy and will have fellow All-American Tajh Boyd at quarterback throwing him the ball. The duo figures to get back to their 2011 form as they have worked on their timing and chemistry to take the Clemson offense over the top next season.
The Tigers have big plans for the 2013 season, with an ACC Championship and BCS National Title not out of reach. For them to get there, Watkins will have to find his freshman form and reach the true heights of his potential, which should make the junior one of the best wide receivers in all of college football.