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Will the Real Sammy Watkins Please Stand Up: Which Watkins Will We See in 2013?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04:  Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tigers looks on against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Carl StineCorrespondent IJune 17, 2013

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins was all the rage heading out of the 2011 college football season, after putting up huge numbers in his first season with the Tigers.

2011 was a breakout year for the freshman, as he caught 82 balls, including 12 of them for touchdown, and racked up over 1,200 yards while averaging nearly 15 yards per reception.

It was a great year, and at the end of it, Watkins became only the fourth player to earn All-American honors as a true freshman, joining Marshall Faulk, Adrian Peterson and Herschel Walker.

It definitely appeared as if Watkins was destined for greatness, with a shot at setting all kinds of records if his stellar play continued, especially considering the Clemson offense had found some level of stability with coordinator Chad Morris at the helm.

Heading into 2012, everything looked golden for the premier wide receiver in the country, as he found his way onto numerous pre-season All-American lists and garnered hype all over the nation.

Then in August of 2012, Watkins was handed down a two game suspension for an arrest back in May of the same year, where he was busted for simple possession of marijuana.

In that same arrest, it was also found that he had bottles of two different prescription drugs that were not his.

Still, it was only two games, and Watkins is so talented, it was assumed by most of the college football universe that he would bounce back from the suspension with a vengeance and put up monster numbers once again.

So it was somewhat surprising that Watkins never took off in 2012 the way he had in 2011, seeing a decrease in every receiving number possible, and only scoring a quarter of the touchdowns he had in 2011.

He was also one of the most explosive kick returners anywhere in 2011, rolling up over 800 return yards and scoring a touchdown. Those numbers dropped dramatically in 2012, as he was only able to gain 257 return yards, and never so much as sniffed the endzone.

Some of this can be attributed to the rise of DeAndre Hopkins, who took his turn as the top Clemson receiver, and dominated the field last season.

Some of this can be attributed to missing four games, as he missed a game against Boston College due to injury, then only played a series against LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl before being carted off with an injury.

But all excuses aside, it was a disappointing season for Watkins, and he struggled in a secondary role on the offense, watching Hopkins and running back Andre Ellington share the limelight with quarterback Tajh Boyd.

So who will it be in 2013? In this strange case of Jekyll and Hyde, can Watkins return to All-American form?

In 2013, he has much going his way, including a step into the role of number one receiver now that Hopkins is gone, as well as a quarterback in Boyd who has legitimate Heisman potential.

So, Sammy, which is it going to be?

If Clemson's spring is any indication, Watkins will be a force in 2013. He capped off an excellent spring in the Tigers' spring game with two touchdown catches and over 150 yards receiving. He also took steps to make it clear that he understands how his off-field decisions were a mistake.

Some pundits have already tabbed him as one of the top two receivers in the nation, and an excellent draft pick:

He's trying to share what he has learned with others, getting his life in order, and focusing on having his head right off the field.

With that kind of dedication to change, as well as a shift in attitude, it's a pretty safe bet that we see a whole lot more of the All-American Sammy Watkins in 2013 than we do the distracted, lethargic guy we saw most of last season.

And for Clemson's opponents, that should be terrifying.

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