NCAA FB

Watkins shows skills at Clemson's spring game

Share This Story

   
 

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP)

Sammy Watkins showed Clemson may not miss star receiver DeAndre Hopkins quite so much next season, catching two long touchdown passes in the Tigers' spring game Saturday.

Watkins was a freshman All-American in 2011 and helped Clemson to its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 20 years. But a two-game suspension, injuries and Hopkins' emergence last fall kept Watkins a second option much of the season. Watkins made his impact felt in the scrimmage with scoring catches of 41 and 50 yards from Cole Stoudt. Watkins had seven catches for 156 yards, better than he did in all but one of the nine games he played last year.

Watkins big day didn't help his White team, which lost to the Orange 34-26 at Death Valley. Still, it was a relief for the thousands of Tigers fans who wondered what happened to their explosive receiver last season as he had 25 fewer catches, 511 fewer receiving yards and nine fewer touchdowns than his debut college season.

''I think I had a solid, OK year,'' Watkins said. ''I don't know about the sophomore slump, but I didn't meet any of the expectations I had for myself.''

Watkins looked intent on turning that around in the spring game. While some stars sit out such scrimmages - ACC player of the year Tajh Boyd didn't take a snap Saturday - Watkins was in throughout the game. With his team trailing 17-0, Watkins sneaked past the secondary and caught Cole Stoudt's pass two yards from the end zone for his first TD catch.

On his team's next series, Watkins ran a sharp slant pattern near the line of scrimmage, caught the ball in traffic and outran everyone else for the 50-yard score.

''It feels good just to come out here and play and just have fun,'' Watkins said.

Clemson hopes Watkins' fun continues this fall. He'll be counted on heavily to make up for the loss of Hopkins, who gave up his senior season to turn pro. Hopkins had 82 receptions last year for a school record 1,405 yards and an ACC record 18 touchdowns.

Hopkins was also Boyd's go-to receiver with games on the line - remember that sliding 26-yard grab on fourth-and-16 Hopkins had on Clemson's game winning drive to beat LSU at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl?. That's something Watkins wants to re-establish with his quarterback.

''Just doing things better, working hard for my releases and just going up for the ball,'' he said. ''Those are things I've got to work on for next season.''

Watkins and the Tigers have 20 weeks until Memorial Stadium fills up again for the 2013 opener with Southeastern Conference power Georgia on Aug. 31.

Watkins and Boyd got a sneak-peek at their opening a week ago when they attended Georgia's spring game - until they got recognized by Bulldog fans. ''That's when we had to get out of there,'' Watkins said, smiling.

Boyd's backup, Stoudt, got most of the work and set a Clemson spring game mark with 304 yards passing to go with four touchdowns. Stoudt, the son of former NFL passer Cliff Stoudt, is unlikely to see much significant time unless Boyd gets injured. Boyd chose to return for his senior season instead of declaring for the NFL drought.

Boyd shuttled from sideline to sideline helping Clemson's quarterbacks. He was right alongside reserve passer Chad Kelly, the nephew of ex-Buffalo Bills star Jim Kelly, when he went down with a serious knee injury. ''It was tough watching from the sideline,'' Boyd said.

He surely liked what he saw from the offense, however. Along with Watkins, receivers Martavis Bryant and Charone Peake each had seven catches and a touchdown in offensive coordinator Chad Morris' fast-paced attack.

Boyd even enjoyed watching Stoudt shine at his position. ''I think we have a chance to be special,'' he said. ''Today was an exciting day.''

Clemson finished last season 11-2, its most victories since its 12-0, national championship season of 1981. The Tigers and coach Dabo Swinney have made no secret this spring their goals include another national championship. Having Watkins back to his freshman form will certainly help.

''We've got some pretty good stuff going,'' Stoudt said.

Tagged: Tajh Boyd, Cole Stoudt, Clemson, DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash