Sammy Watkins wants to get his weight up for what figures to be his swan song in Tigertown.
"I think, last year what I did -- I was just so weak. I had nicks and bruises and injuries, because I wasn't eating right. I wasn't really lifting heavy," he said on Wednesday, after the first spring practice of the 2013 season.
"They stayed on my weight. Now, I'm 210, 208 -- bigger -- same thing that DeAndre did. He got healthy and big his junior year. It's just the same thing I'm trying to do."
That formula certainly paid off for Hopkins, who caught 82 passes for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns last season.
Just two months into his new regiment, Watkins has already noticed a difference.
"I feel healthy. I'm not frail or weak, anything like that. I think I'm most definitely thicker and stronger," he said.
He'll have to be now that Hopkins is off to a life in the NFL.
"[Hopkins] was just somebody that you could depend on…whether a cornerback or two guys on him, he was going to catch it -- a guy that was just relentless, a guy that picked up everybody up, someone that we fed off, and I fed off," Watkins said. "We're going to miss him a lot."
To help pick up the slack, not only is Watkins trying to improve, physically, he's made a conscious effort to be a better leader.
"My previous years I was here, I was just a type of guy that went out there and played my game, played real hard, not a man of too many words," he said. "Now, I'm really talking, trying to help the young guys that are there.
"And just be positive, even if it's a bad situation, just being positive. To be negative, bad things are going to come out. You've just got to be positive."
That positive outlook has helped Watkins get through a rocky sophomore season.
"Everything happens for a reason," he said. "I'm here now. It's a new chapter, a new year. I've just got to go out and play my game."
In year one, Watkins' game looked phenomenal, better than just about any other freshman wide receiver in college football history.
He caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman.
Those numbers dropped in 2012. From the two-game to start the season to the mid-year illness and high-ankle sprain against LSU, Watkins sophomore campaign didn't live quite live up to expectations so many had for him.
"I just tried to stay positive throughout the whole thing," he said. "I just stayed strong, leaned on my family, my teammates and my coaches. I'm all right now.
"I've just got to come out and show everybody I can play ball."
Watkins ready for year three
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