It can be difficult to predict just how good a player will be for the upcoming season. There are so many variables that have to be taken into account like their schedule, the team around them and their own personal motivation, just for starters. But for Sammy Watkins and the Clemson Tigers, things appear to be shaping up for a monster 2013 season.
Everyone is aware of what Watkins is capable of when he is playing at his best. During his freshman season in 2011, Watkins broke out in a major way, catching 82 passes for 1,219 yards with 12 touchdowns. Off-field issues, injuries and the emergence of DeAndre Hopkins led to a disappointing sophomore slump for Watkins in 2012 and he finished the year with just 57 catches for 708 yards and three touchdowns. Not bad numbers, but nowhere near the level he hit in 2011.
For 2013, Watkins will be the main target for Clemson now that Hopkins is gone and will be motivated to prove that 2012 was a fluke. He has been keeping his nose clean this offseason and has built an excellent rapport with quarterback Tajh Boyd, who should be one of the premier talents under center in all of college football next season. That relationship will go a long way in getting Watkins the touches he needs to make an impact.
Clemson will need to find a reliable No. 2 option in the passing game, however, to fill the void left by Hopkins to keep defenses from focusing solely on Watkins in the passing game. Having that secondary option will allow Watkins to get more one-on-one coverage where he can use his ability to break open the game with huge plays down the field. If the Tigers don’t have that second option, Watkins will have to overcome double teams all season long, which could hurt his overall production.
Watkins has the talent and the opportunity appears to be there for him to have a major bounceback season in 2013 and reclaim his status as an elite wide receiver. Will he be able to take advantage?