Watkins ready to shine in 2012

CLEMSON - The genesis of the Sammy Watkins phenomenon dates back to the final two weeks of last September.

On September 17 against Auburn, Watkins caught 10 passes for 155 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 44 yards.

Seven days later against Florida State, he hauled seven passes for 141 yards and two more scores.

A superstar was born.

"Everybody knows me now," Watkins said, during Monday's interview in the West End Zone.

Indeed, not that CUTigers left any doubt that Watkins would be an instant hit. But, to that magnitude, no one saw that coming.

Watkins finished his freshman season as an AP All-American. He caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns, returned 33 kicks for 826 yards and a score and rushed for 231 yards on 32 carries.

But the humble, hard-working playmaker from Fort Myers, Fla., hit a bump in the road in May. He was arrested for a pair of misdemeanor drug charges. Dabo Swinney suspended his best player for the first two games of the season.

Instead of traveling with the team to Atlanta for the Auburn game, Watkins stayed back in Clemson.

"We looked good on offense. On defense, we looked pretty good. I just saw what we can be. I didn't determine how we would be after that game, because that was just the first game, everybody kind of jittery," Watkins said. "We're actually a good team. We can actually fight for another ACC Championship if we fix a couple of things.

During the game, Watkins thought, "‘Man, we're going to win this game. If we win this game it's a good thing.'

"I didn't want them to lose without me. I just saw that the team could step up and play without me, win without me. We've got other playmakers."

Watkins sent encouraging text messages to his teammates.

"Before the game, I texted all of the guys on offense to play and have fun, just make plays. That's what we do. That's what we've been doing, just make plays."

During Clemson's 52-27 win over Ball State, Watkins served as an extra coach on the sidelines.

"I was just helping out, telling them what I see, telling the receivers what to do and what they see…telling the coach what we should run, what I think would be good to go run in the second quarter," he said.

The show was back after a two-game hiatus.

In Watkins' return to action against Furman, he caught four passes for 52 yards. His only carry was a 58-yard touchdown run.

"They didn't get the ball to me that much, but I wasn't really worried about touching the ball," Watkins said. "I just wanted to be out there running around, block -- just get back to doing normal things that wide receivers do."

That, of course, is expected to change this week.

"I'm pretty sure this [week], I'll be prepared with touching the ball a lot in practice and running around more, moving with motions," he said.

Florida State fans can rest assured knowing the Seminoles coaches will keep Watkins under a close watch.

Easier said than done.

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