A calculated move

CLEMSON - It's been known for a while now that Sammy Watkins was taking over DeAndre Hopkins' vacated 9-position.

Until Thursday's post-practice interview sessions, there wasn't much clarity as to why Watkins was making the move from the 2-position that he played in each of his first two seasons at Clemson.

Chad Morris explained: "I think [Watkins] provides just a dynamic approach to that [short-side of the field]. It's going to provide guys that aren't going to be able to just play him 1-on-1 in the boundary.

"I think, when you do that, you create a 2-high [safety] look. You're able to run the football. It's going to help your run game down the road. You're still going to be able to get some 1-on-1 matchups."

The formula certainly worked with Hopkins holding down the spot. In two years there, he caught 154 passes for 2,383 yards and 28 touchdowns.

However, the new product is far from finished. Quarterback and receiver have plenty of work to do to before they're completely in sync with each other.

"The biggest thing we're trying to get with Sammy and Tajh [Boyd] right now is chemistry. That's going to take time," Morris said. "Moving him into the boundary, it's not going to happen right now during spring ball."

Watkins agreed.

"It's just a process of getting the timing [down]," he said. "Knowing where he's going to throw the ball and knowing what I'm going to do. I would say, this spring, we're connecting a lot, making a lot of big plays together. But we still have a lot more to work on, releases and knowing what to do on different coverages.

"I think that we've, actually, been making a lot of plays. We're not to where [Boyd] and Nuk were. But, by the end of fall camp, I think we'll be there."

The position switch has Watkins thinking big. He believes it will allow him to put up numbers that will top the 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns he put up as a freshman.

"I really enjoy this position," Watkins said. I've been making a lot of 1-on-1 catches, doing a lot of routes, doing a lot of route trees, actually focusing on receiving, instead of running around and running speed sweeps all day."

He added: "It's just been a great experience of learning all the things that Nuk learned. He talked to me about this position. It's not about this position. It's about what you know…it's a great move."

And those are scary words for defenses on Clemson's 2013 schedule.

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