It’s finally game week! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus “completely bulletproof” — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
After setting the college football world on fire as a freshman, Sammy Watkins’s production took a distinct dip last season. Part of that was due to the stress and suspension from offseason drug possession charges, but overall, Watkins just never seemed to regain the form he showed off in 2011. In all, 57 catches, 708 yards and three scores is nothing to scoff about, but it’s certainly a far cry from the video game numbers he put up the year before. Now back to being the primary wide receiver on this Clemson Tigers squad, he’s eager to reclaim his place among the sport’s elite and prove that last year was simply a dip, rather than a permanent regression.
Rather than getting bogged down by the drop in production, he’s used it as motivation. As he mentioned last week when discussing 2012’s issues:
“It just made me step up and mature. I just realized that I’m going to make mistakes and I’m also going to face some adversity. It just made me realize I’ve got to step up and be a leader because I am being watched by everybody.”
To come to that type of realization at his age is huge, and it sets him up for a monstrous 2013 season. Clemson isn’t just staring at an ACC title this fall. They want to contend for a National Championship. But they can’t do that without Watkins being in top form.
Good thing he’s spent his entire offseason focusing on how to be the greatest possible help to Clemson. Talking to the media recently, he’s mentioned that he’s aiming for versatility, and looking for any and all ways to help this team be more productive on offense. Whether at the X, Y or Z position or as a running back, he’s given the Tigers coaching staff full flexibility to plug him in wherever he’s needed. That’s the same type of variety that made him so productive his freshman year, and if this is any indication, Tigers fans could be in for quite a treat in 2013. Combine 2011 Watkins with the 2012 edition of QB Tajh Boyd, and this offense looks nearly unstoppable — not a bad situation when you’re gunning to win a national title, no?