Sammy Watkins had his first serving in May when he was arrested on simple possession charges.
Dabo Swinney responded by issuing a two-game suspension, which included a stay at home pass for the first game of the season. Instead of traveling to Atlanta for a game against Auburn in The Georgia Dome, Watkins stayed behind in Clemson and watched the game on TV.
That took some getting used to.
"I was kind of down for a little minute," Watkins said, "But I just had to accept the fact that I had to take coach's discipline."
And he did, humbly paying his penance.
Some of that was as a result of the health issues that popped up after the Florida State game. Watkins said poor diet and health compounded the issues. His health got so bad that he missed the Boston College trip because of an abdominal virus.
Throughout the season, there were stretches when No. 2 never really looked like the guy that Clemson fans got to know just a year earlier. That was supposed to change against LSU.
Watkins was knocked out of the bowl game on his first touch from scrimmage. After everything he'd put himself through in 2012, the season became that much more forgettable.
Fortunately, for Watkins and everyone else in orange and white, the injury wasn't serious enough to force him out of spring practice. But it reinforced the lessons that were sent his way nearly every step of the way in 2012.
"I think everything happens for a reason. I think was really humbled," Watkins said, when asked about the Chick-fil-A Bowl injury. "You've got to take every play and situation serious with football. It can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye.
"I think it kind of opened my eyes. Just go out there and play hard every rep, leave it out there on the field. As a person, little things like that can't hold you down. You've got to get ready for the next game and the next season."
That's exactly what he did. Watkins approached the offseason before his junior year with the same vigor that he brought to the plate back in 2011 when he was a five-star stud recruit.
According to everyone who's watched him in practice this month, it's paid off.
"Right now, I'm living right," Watkins said. "My body is just totally different. I'm out with the team, I'm really just focusing now on the game, not worried about the off the field issues."
Watkins is ready for 2013
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