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
"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
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."
More is better for Watkins
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