Sammy Watkins has experienced many different and new things in the last few months. He’s seen his popularity with major college programs skyrocket as more than 20 Division-I offers have flocked in. He’s also watched some of the best college athletes compete during spring practices, getting a glimpse at what his future could hold.
But none of that compares to what he dealt with in mid-April when he boarded a plane for the first time in his life. And this wasn’t any ole’ trip. No, the Fort Myers South Fort Myers athlete was headed from south Florida to Ann Arbor, Mich., to check out the Michigan Wolverines program.
Watkins said he was “very nervous” boarding the plane and that feeling only intensified once he got in his seat and felt the engine rev up.
To cure his anxiety, Watkins said he made himself fall asleep. Luckily for him he made it through his first flight without waking up, but yet another surprise awaited him when he reached Ann Arbor and got to see the program up close.
“It’s a nice school. It’s a big school,” Watkins said of Michigan.
“It was way bigger (than expected).”
Surprises just kept coming for the 6-foot-1, 180-pound prospect when he went out for Michigan’s spring game. Watkins sported two jackets on the sidelines for the game as the temperature dipped well below his comfort zone.
“My hands, I couldn’t feel my hands,” he said. “That’s pretty bad for a receiver and quarterback because you really can’t feel the ball.”
Watkins will be one of the most talked about prospects coming out of south Florida this summer with the skill he posses at receiver and defensive back. As a junior, he had 46 receptions for 1,192 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Schools are recruiting him as both receiver and defensive back, but it appears that his future will be at receiver.
The number of schools recruiting Watkins has come as a surprise to him and it’s gotten a bit overwhelming. He’s even had to go as far to tell schools like Notre Dame and Texas Tech to “back off” a bit. Watkins said it isn’t that he doesn’t like the schools, he just doesn’t envision himself playing for certain schools.
“I already have enough offers as it is and I don’t know if I’m going to all the way out there,” he said.
Though there are two schools that have stuck out for him since his recruitment began — Florida and Miami. Watkins said he grew up watching the Hurricanes and having them close to home has helped him learn more about the program.
“I like them,” Watkins said of Miami. “It’s close to home, good school with good academics. They are all right.”
But he’s got a special bond with Florida. His half-brother Jaylen is a true freshman cornerback for the Gators, and Sammy said reuniting with Jaylen would be nice, but he’s still got to make the right decision for himself.
“My brother is over there, but at the same time I have to choose the place where I want to go, but I like them,” he said. “I’ve visited there and it’s pretty close to home, so they’re looking pretty good.”
Florida is recruiting him as a receiver.
With more colleges showing interest in Sammy, he said he will use his summer to visit schools rather than competing at camps. He realizes schools won’t get to see him showcase his skills, but he’s not concerned with that because he’ll have the season to show coaches what he can do.
“I don’t really care about (working out at camps) because I can work out with my coaches and my teammates or I can just train myself,” he said. “I don’t need anybody to motivate me so I don’t care about any camps.”
Sammy said he and his coach will sit down next week and narrow his list of schools down to 10. As of now, the only schools he knows will make the cut are Florida, Miami and Michigan.