Eye on NFL, Clemson's Sammy Watkins seeks 'statement game'


Clemson junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins hasn't officially announced whether he is turning pro after this season, but he definitely dropped a hint Tuesday while meeting with the media.

Clemson plays at archrival South Carolina on Saturday, and Watkins said, "This needs to be a statement game from me. I have to have a dominant game, and go out and make some plays."

South Carolina has won four in a row in the series, and what better way for Watkins (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) to leave another memory than to make sure the Gamecocks don't win a series-record fifth in a row.

Watkins was named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award -- given annually to the nation's top receiver -- on Monday, and coach Dabo Swinney already has said he will be surprised if Watkins returns for his senior season.

Watkins has 78 receptions for 1,144 yards and 10 touchdowns. Clemson has two games left (South Carolina and a bowl appearance), and Watkins has a good shot at breaking school single-season marks for receptions (88, by Aaron Kelly in 2007) and receiving yards (1,405, by DeAndre Hopkins last season). Watkins also is within reach of two other school records held by Hopkins: career receiving yards (Watkins is at 3,007, and the record is 3,020) and career TD receptions (Watkins is at 25, and the record is 27).

But he hasn't had success against the Gamecocks; in two losses, he has eight receptions for just 76 yards.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, a senior who is 0-3 against the Gamecocks, thinks this season will be different.

"I feel like we're clicking on all cylinders heading into this game," he told reporters Tuesday. "What better way than to play your best in November."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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