Two 10-win teams. Two freshmen. Two bright futures.
That’s exactly what you get from freshmen wide receivers Clemson’ Sammy Watkins and U.S.C.’s Marqise Lee. Both players had a significant role in their teams’ success this season and both earned their way as freshmen All-Americans. The accolades for both of these players have been well-deserved.
For the Clemson Tigers, Sammy Watkins provided a dynamic threat to score at any given time. He caught 77 passes for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns this past season while adding another touchdown and 683 yards on 26 kick returns. He also rushed the ball 31 times for 229 yards, a 7.4 yard average to help his team in multiple ways. That gave him over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 12 total touchdowns. Watkins and the Tigers have one more game to go as they take on the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Orange Bowl.
As we stated in a previous blog, Marqise Lee slowly but surely became a favorite target of U.S.C. Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley. Playing alongside a wide receiver like Robert Woods would seem like it would limit your targets, especially with Woods catching a Pac-12 record 111 catches this season, but Lee did a tremendous job for the Trojans. He added 73 receptions for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. He didn’t have the rushing opportunities that Watkins had, but Lee also returned 10 kickoffs for 285 yards and another touchdown giving him 1,428 all-purpose yards and 12 total touchdowns. He helped the sanctioned Trojans to a 10-win season when they had nothing to play for. He had 7 games this season in which he caught a pass for more than 25 yards.
When you look at both of these stars, you can see very bright futures. Both have long careers ahead of them and have all the talent to claim top spots on their respective schools all-time leader boards.
The debate will begin eventually as to who will be the better receiver, but for now, we sit back and watch as two of the most exciting players at the wide receiver position continue to work their magic. Lee has at least one more year with Woods across the field as well, so it will be interesting to see if his production drops a bit.
There is also the question of Matt Barkley returning for a senior season and if he doesn’t, Lee and Woods will have to learn a brand new quarterback and Watkins will expect to get his quarterback, Tahj Boyd, back for another season.
These two are the future of college football for the foreseeable future. These guys are highlight reels and stars; enjoy watching them while you can.
By: Brandon Williams