Clemson All-American Watkins to miss 2 games

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

View results

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson will be without star receiver Sammy Watkins for its season-opening showdown with Auburn after Tigers coach Dabo Swinney suspended the All-American for two games after an offseason drug arrest.

Watkins was pulled over during a traffic stop May 4 and found to have marijuana and two pills he didn’t have a prescription for. He was charged with two counts of possession, both misdemeanor charges. The 19-year-old Watkins was eligible for a pretrial intervention program as a first time offender.

Swinney said he told Watkins then he could sit him for as many as four games if the receiver didn’t follow guidelines of his team or legal punishment. Swinney met with Watkins‘ attorney Bob Ariail earlier Friday to make sure the sophomore complied with the rules of intervention program.

“I’m glad I took some time and didn’t make an emotional decision,” Swinney said Friday night after the team’s opening practice of fall camp.

Now, it’s the Tigers who’ll have to find a way to get by without one of their main playmakers in their opener at the Georgia Dome on Sept. 1. “I hate that we won’t have him,” Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said. “But this will give some of our other guys the chance to step up.”

Watkins, voted the Atlantic Coast Conference’s preseason player of the year last month, will also miss Clemson’s home opener against Ball State on Sept. 8.

Watkins was a record-setter as a freshman, finishing with 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was also a dynamic kick returner, leading the team with a 25-yard average and bringing one back for a touchdown in the Tigers comeback win over Maryland last season. He was named to the AP All-America team as an all-purpose player.

Watkins took full responsibility for his transgression and promised he’d matured since the arrest.

“I didn’t care how many games it was,” said Watkins, who hadn’t taken public questions since he was stopped by Clemson police. “I didn’t care what the outcome was, I just wanted to serve my consequences.”

Video of the arrest, released by the Clemson Police Department in response to open-record requests from The Associated Press and other media outlets, showed a compliant, polite Watkins cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Watkins took the same approach in the three months since as he tried to work his way back into favor with his coaches and teammates. “I just kept good spirits, stayed humble through the whole situation because I messed up, no one else messed up,” the receiver said.

Swinney had said shortly after the arrest that Watkins would likely miss game time. “I’m really proud of him. Just did a really fantastic job with everything that was asked of him,” the coach said. “All you can do is respond when you make a mistake and he’s responded the right way.”

Clemson does have some other firepower at receiver. Junior DeAndre Hopkins caught 72 passes last year for 976 yards and five touchdowns. Martavis Bryant had just nine catches last season, but the freshman led the team with nearly 25 yards a reception.

Losing Watkins against Auburn, though, was not how Clemson hoped to follow up its first Atlantic Coast Conference championship season in 20 years. Clemson started 8-0 last season before fading late and had counted on Watkins play for another fast start.

Watkins first gained national attention in Clemson’s 38-24 win over Auburn at Death Valley last September. He caught 10 passes for 155 yards _ his first of five games with at least 100 receiving yards _ and two touchdowns.

Watkins said he’ll continue to work hard at practice and on the sidelines during the games he’s missed. He’ll be ready, he says, to play just as well as ever when he’s eligible to return Sept. 15 against FCS opponent Furman.

“The fact is even though I’ve messed up, I’ve still got to come out and work hard like I’ve been doing,” he said.

Swinney told the players of Watkins‘ punishment Friday. Center Dalton Freeman said he understood the suspension, but was ready to move on.

“There’s nothing we can do about it,” Freeman said. “Now we just have to get ready and put it behind us.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals' development camp at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Monday, July 9, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

    Nathan Walker’s NHL dreams send him around the world

  • Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon, third from left, smiles as he warms up with his teammates who were were wearing t-shirts in support of him for the All Star game before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Anthony Rendon not an All-Star, but he’s been Nats’ MVP

  • Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter speaks during a media availability in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    LOVERRO: Suck-up Buck Showalter needs history lesson

  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Celebrities In The News
  • Hall of Fame Inductees, KISS, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Ace Frehley speak at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, April, 10, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

    KISS rocker Gene Simmons touts 1 percent life: ‘It’s fantastic’

  • This image from video released by Funny Or Die shows President Obama, left, with actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis during an appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the digital short with a laser focus on reaching people aged 18 to 34. The president urged young people to sign up for the new health care plan through an appearance posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014, on the comic website Funny or Die, bypassing TV talk show titans like Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel for an online audience. (AP Photo/Funny Or Die)

    Obama’s ‘Ferns’ interview gets Emmy nod

  • ** FILE ** In this Nov. 12, 2013, file photo, actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    Alec Baldwin in talks to play Rob Ford-like mayor in new NBC drama