As the All-American prepares for his first game back with the Tigers, you can bet he'll return with a whole new appreciation for the game.
"He's excited, he really is," Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said during Tuesday's press conference. "He's had such a great attitude and he's such a great example of how to lead the right way. I told him yesterday we're 2-0 Sammy don't mess it up."
Watkins will return for his first game with the Tigers when they host Furman on Saturday. He missed the first two games of the season as punishment for an offseason drug arrest. During those two games, he's watched his team win without him, whiles watching other receivers make catches that otherwise would have been his and break records that otherwise would have been his.
"It's exciting to have him back," Tajh Boyd
said. "He's one of the most explosive players in college football. It's been fun watching him practice, seeing how he's responded to not playing those two games.
"I think it will show exactly how much he's grown when he gets out there on that field too. He's so much more mature as a player than he was last year. He understands the game more. It's going to be fun."
Boyd said it was hard to hide his smiles watching Watkins in practice on Monday. Boyd admitted he'll be challenged to work all of the Clemson receivers into plays, with Watkins back on the field.
"You have a guy like that out there, you automatically want to get him the ball, but we are not going to force it. For us as an offense we've got to let the game come to us. I think that's what we've been doing the past two weeks. When you have a guy like him out there, it means everything, the presence that he has. But I feel confident everyone is going to get their touches. The work will be distributed," said Boyd.
Boyd thinks Watkins' suspension was unfortunate, but believes the team is better off for it.
"I think it could have actually been the best thing that could have happened, just in helping the other receivers mature," said Boyd.
When asked whether or not Watkins would be involved in the first play of the game on Saturday, Boyd smiled.
"He may get the first pass of the game. If it's a one on one situation, he'll definitely get the ball," he said.
CLEMSON - It's human nature. Anytime something is taken away from us, we want it more. Appreciate it more. For Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, the game of football was temporarily taken away.
CLEMSON - It's human nature. Anytime something is taken away from us, we want it more.