More is better for Watkins

CLEMSON - It was pretty rare to see Sammy Watkins set up as a punt returner during his career at South Fort Myers High School.

But when he did, usually, something special happened. Something special meaning: six points.

As a senior, Watkins returned four punts. All four were taken to the house for a touchdown.

"I just played around, ‘Coach, let me get back there.' He'd put me in and I'd make a play. I'd surprise them," he said.

Watkins, who returned five punts for 12 yards as a freshman last season, expects to return more punts this fall. He and fellow wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins have been splitting reps during spring workouts.

"I actually want to takeover, get a couple of punts, get good field position, maybe take one or two back this year," Watkins said. "That would make us a better team on special teams and all over."

The rising sophomore will work back into the kick return game, too. He finished last season with 33 returns for 826 yards and a touchdown.

Even with the new kickoff rules in place, Watkins plans to make the most of each return.

"I told coach it doesn't matter. I'm taking all of them out. I'm going to get past the 20," he said.

Watkins, who caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns during his freshman campaign, wasn't fully healthy the entire year. The shoulder that he banged up against Wake Forest wasn't 100 percent for the final four games.

"It was a tough thing to deal with because I gave the team all I had in the first eight games," Watkins said. "You actually could tell and I could tell, myself, I couldn't give it. At the same time, I had to come through, step up and do what I can."

New to the rigors of the college game, his body began to wear down over the course of the season, and for good reason. He touched the ball 153 times [82 catches, 33 kick returns, 32 rushes, five punt returns, and one pass].

Watkins is making sure that he's better equipped to handle the wear and tear in 2012.

"Actually, I just got a little stronger. I dropped a couple of pounds. It seems like I'm getting quicker and stronger. I'm just hitting the weight room, getting my shoulder right, and my lower body," he said.

He added, "Just getting bigger so that I can take hits, get up and go to the next play where I don't have to worry about getting hurt, little nicks and bruises, getting injured."

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