Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been named the ACC Rookie of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Watkins had 43 of the 45 votes in becoming Clemson’s first ACC Rookie of the Year since James Davis in 2005.
Watkins has 72 receptions for 1073 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns this year and those figures are second in the ACC in all three areas. He leads all freshmen receivers nationally in receptions, yards and touchdowns and his figures are also all-time ACC records for freshmen. Additionally, Watkins has 1920 all-purpose yards and his 174 yards per game ranks fourth nationally, first among all freshmen and best in ACC history among frosh.
Watkins has three games of at least 150 pass receiving yards, already a Clemson career record, and he has five games of at least 100 receiving yards. He has accomplished this in 10.5 games, as he suffered a shoulder injury early in the third period against Wake Forest, then missed the NC State game. He returned against South Carolina on November 26 and will play in the ACC Championship Game against Virginia Tech this Saturday.
Watkins was honored seven times by the ACC this year, four times ACC Rookie of the Week and three times as ACC Receiver of the Week. He was also named the National Freshman of the Week three times by Rivals.com.
The native of Fort Myers, FL had a 345-yard all-purpose yardage game at Maryland, the fourth most all-purpose yards in ACC history and the most in Clemson history. He also had a 284-yard game against Georgia Tech. He has scored 11 touchdowns overall and needs just two to break C.J. Spiller’s Clemson freshman record of 12 set in 2006.
Watkins needs just 12 receiving yards in the ACC Championship game to break Rod Gardner’s record of 1084 receiving yards in 1999. He was named first-team All-ACC on Monday, the first Clemson true freshman to earn first-team All-ACC honors since Anthony Simmons was named as a linebacker in 1995.
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“Sammy was definitely a guy that we knew would have to help us, but it wasn’t until we got him into camp that we realized just how special he was and that he had a chance to be a starter and a game-changer, and that’s what he’s been,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said.
Watkins is the sixth Rookie of the Year from Clemson and the first since running back James Davis in 2005. He is the fifth wide receiver to earn the distinction and the first since Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson in 2004.