CLEMSON — Opponents will have to deal with more Sammy Watkins in 2012. Watkins said he wanted to return more punts this season and coach Dabo Swinney said Monday that Watkins will be one of the team’s primary punt returners along with DeAndre Hopkins.
Watkins returned only five punts last year, though he was one of the team’s primary kick returners.
“We want to get him the ball as much as possible,” Swinney said. “Much like we did with C.J. (Spiller).”
Swinney said sophomore receiver Adam Humphries could also get work as a punt returner this season. The staff likes his acceleration and hands.
Watkins was listed as one of 12 Heisman candidates by Sports Illustrated last week and the magazine noted while recent Heisman history has not been kind to receivers, past winners at receiver like Tim Brown did make an impact in the return game.
Swinney said he’s “really excited” about the development of cornerbacks Darius Robinson and Bashaud Breeland this spring. Swinney said Robinson “out-competed” Watkins in Monday’s scrimmage. Watkins had six catches for 56 yards.
“Darius gets better every single day,” Swinney said. “(Robinson) got tired of getting beat (by Watkins). Watkins has made Robinson a better player.”
Hopkins continues to shine
Hopkins continued his excellent spring catching team-bests of six passes for 160 yards in Monday’s scrimmage, including a 13-yard touchdown pass from Tajh Boyd. Swinney has called Hopkins the star of camp and said the rising junior is stronger and more explosive. Clemson might have two No. 1 receivers in Watkins and Hopkins this fall.
Parker stands out
Beaufort native Justin Parker has raised his stock perhaps more than any linebacker this spring. With Tony Steward (ACL) and Stephone Anthony (ligament tear in finger) out of for the remainder of spring practice, the sophomore has continued his solid camp.
“Justin Parker is really, really coming on it’s been fun to watch him this spring,” Swinney said. “He’s very fast and instinctive.”
Defensive tackle Josh Watson had an impressive scrimmage making five tackles including two for loss and a sack… Andre Ellington rushed six times for 93 yard Monday. Mike Bellamy rushed seven times for 17 yards. … Stanton Seckinger caught four passes for 42 yards as a tight end.
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