Sammy Watkins (born June 14, 1993) is an American football wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Bills fourth overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. He played college football at Clemson.
High school career
Watkins attended South Fort Myers High School in Fort Myers, Florida, where he was a letterman in football, basketball and track. He became the all-time leading receiver in the history of Lee County with 133 catches for 2,997 yards and 36 touchdowns during his career. In his junior and senior years, he was a first-team all-state selection. As a sophomore, he had 33 receptions for 537 yards and 10 scores. In his junior year, he added 46 catches for 1,192 yards and 14 touchdowns. As a senior, Watkins had eight 100-yard receiving games on the season, accumulating totals of 54 catches for 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns. He led an undefeated South Fort Myers team into the 3A state semifinals, where they lost 44–28 to a Duke Johnson-led Miami Norland team. He played in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Watkins also ran track & field for the Wolfpack, where he was one of the state’s top performers in the sprinting events. As a junior, he finished fifth in the 100 meters and sixth in the 200 meters at the state meet. As a senior, he captured the AA state title in the 200 meters, with a PR of 21.11 seconds. He also won the 100 meters at the 2011 Tarpon Invitational, recording a personal-best time of 10.45 seconds.
Watkins was a highly touted recruit before the 2011 college football season. Regarded as a five-star recruit by Rivals.com, he was rated the third-best wide receiver prospect in the nation, behind only George Farmer and Trey Metoyer. He was ranked fifth best by Scout.com. Recruited by dozens of schools, Watkins chose Clemson over offers from Florida, Florida State, Miami (FL), Michigan, and Tennessee.
Watkins committed to Clemson in November 2010. He was also recruited by Florida State, Florida, and Miami but decided to go to a school outside Florida.
Despite not taking part in spring practice, Watkins made an immediate impact for Clemson in his freshman season in 2011. He caught 82 passes for 1219 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first collegial season, including 10 catches, 155 yards and two TDs against defending national champions Auburn. He led the nation in reception yards per game, all-purpose yards and touchdowns. He also broke 11 school freshman records seven games into the season, including total all-purpose yards previously held by C. J. Spiller. He was an AP first-team All-American, becoming only the fourth ever true freshman to do so, joining Herschel Walker, Marshall Faulk and Adrian Peterson. He was also named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America.
As a sophomore in 2012 he had 57 receptions for 708 yards and three touchdowns. As a junior he had 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was the MVP of the 2014 Orange Bowl after setting an Orange Bowl record with 16 receptions for 227 yards. He also set the school record for career receptions in the game finishing with 240.
In January 2014, Watkins announced that he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
2014 NFL Draft
Watkins was drafted by the Buffalo Bills as the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was the first wide receiver selected by the Bills in the first round since Lee Evans in 2004.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 1 in||211 lb||32 in||9⅝ in||4.43 s||1.54 s||2.52 s||4.34 s||6.95 s||34 in||10 ft 6 in||16 reps|
|All values from NFL Combine|
On May 28, 2014, Watkins signed his rookie contract, a fully guaranteed four-year deal worth $19.94 million, with a $12.8 million signing bonus. He caught his first career touchdown reception from EJ Manuel in a Week 2 29-10 victory over the Miami Dolphins. In Week 7 vs. Minnesota Vikings, Watkins caught nine passes for 122 yards for two touchdowns. His second touchdown was the game winner coming with one second remaining in the game.
He finished his season setting a new team rookie record in both receptions (65) and receiving yards (982). He also caught 6 touchdown passes.
Through the first five games of the 2015 season, Watkins (who played in only 3 of the games because of a calf injury) had just 7 catches for 99 yards. He voiced his frustration before game 6, saying “You came up to draft me and I’m not getting targets — that’s a problem. You’re making me look bad and you’re making yourself look bad. Why not make both of us look good?”
In a pre-draft interview, Watkins said that his favorite football team, as a child, was the Buffalo Bills. In May 2012, Watkins was arrested by Clemson campus police for possession of marijuana. He was also found to have one pill each of Vyvanse and Adderall and charged with possession of a controlled substance. As a result, Watkins was suspended for the first two games of the 2012−2013 season. Watkins completed pre-trial intervention and had the charge expunged from his record.
His older brother, Jaylen Watkins, is a defensive back and plays for the Buffalo Bills. Both Sammy and Jaylen were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, 97 picks apart. He has one daughter with his girlfriend.