Hitting the stage Friday night for the Clemson Tigers were two big-time superstars on offense. Quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins have been dazzling us all year long with some dominating performances. Each largely responsible for the success Clemson has had this season, and both stood out Friday night in the 2014 Orange Bowl when the Tigers took on Ohio State.
Watkins, particularly, made history in this one as he set an Orange Bowl record, and career-high, with 227 receiving yards. He caught 16 passes to get there and also got into the end zone twice as the Tigers took down the Buckeyes 40-35 in exciting fashion.
Prior to Friday night, Watkins’ career high in receiving yardage came in 2012 when he totaled 202 receiving yards against Wake Forest in a Clemson blowout. In 2013, Watkins went over the 100-yard mark seven times, topping 160 yards twice.
Heading into this year’s NFL Draft, Watkins is highly regarded as a top-10 pick. Some mocks even have him within the top-5 prospects. With his performance int he Orange Bowl, he solidified his status as a top-5 talent in this draft and should make some NFL franchise very, very happy.
The most impressive part of Watkins’ game is his ability to catch the ball and then make moves after the fact to get upfield. Watkins is absolutely brilliant when it comes to yards after the catch. He’s one of those guys that appears to already be analyzing his next move before he secures the ball. While most guys shouldn’t dare think of doing that, Watkins makes it look effortless. However he does it, Watkins sure knows where he’s going after making the catch — and he gets there in a hurry.
Against the Buckeyes, Watkins displayed this ability to perfection. Over half of his yards came by way of yards after the catch, in fact, over three fourths of his yardage came by way of yards after the catch.
Actually, that’s also still a bit inaccurate. 90 percent of Watkins’ receiving yardage came after the catch — an unbelievable number.
The things this kid can do with the ball in his hands are absolutely mind-boggling. He turns the corner as quick as anyone we’ve ever seen, and gets upfield immediately. His speed and versatility coming out of the back field make him the complete package as a wideout. Look out, NFL, this Watkins guy is going to be gracing the professional playing field real soon.