10/20/11 — Sammy Watkins

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Sammy Watkins

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 20, 2011 1:49 PM

The Associated Press

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins finally looked like a freshman early on against Maryland -- and Tigers coach Dabo Swinney called him on it.

Watkins, who has performed more like an all-ACC selection than a first-year player, had an early punt muff that led to the Terps' first touchdown Saturday night. And when he got to the sidelines, Swinney told him, "You owe me now."

Watkins answered, "I got you, coach."

Just like he has all season -- not just in eighth-ranked Clemson's 56-45 victory against Maryland.

Watkins broke C.J. Spiller's school record with 345 all-purpose yards -- the fourth-best performance in Atlantic Coast Conference history -- and earned league honors as receiver and rookie of the week.

His eight touchdowns have doubled Clemson's previous best for freshman and he's three away from Aaron Kelly's single-season record of 11 TDs. He's got 46 catches for 728 yards, also a Tigers freshman record. His four games 100-yard receiving games is two shy of Clemson's best in a season.

"Sammy's one of those special guys," tight end Dwayne Allen marveled.

He and the eighth-ranked Tigers (7-0, 4-0 ACC) hope to continue their unbeaten season against North Carolina at Death Valley on Saturday.

The humble Watkins has handled his success with maturity.

He continually credits teammates for any success and said for fun, he goes to Clemson's Vickery Hall to study and catch up on school work.