Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says All-American receiver Sammy Watkins is working hard to redeem himself after last spring’s drug arrest.
Watkins was pulled over during a traffic stop and found to have a bag of marijuana and two pills he didn’t have a prescription for. He was charged with two counts of possession, both misdemeanor charges.
Watkins was eligible for a pretrial intervention program as a first-time offender.
Swinney said this week Watkins understood his mistake and is doing the things he must this offseason to regain the trust of his teammates and coaches after his mistake. Swinney has said Watkins will miss game time as part of his punishment for the arrest.
“Anything’s a possibility as what kind of punishment we decide,” Swinney said. “I’m not trying to pin myself into a corner or anything like that.”
Watkins set Clemson records with 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was also a dynamic kick returner, leading the team with a 25-yard average and bringing one back for a touchdown in the Tigers’ comeback victory against Maryland last season.
Clemson opens the season at the Georgia Dome against Auburn on Sept. 1, the third consecutive year it’s played the 2010 national champions. Obviously, losing Watkins for the first game would be a significant blow to Clemson’s offense.
After Auburn, Clemson plays at home against Ball State and Furman — two games it will be heavily favored to win no matter who’s playing wide receiver.
Swinney said he doesn’t want the questions about Watkins to drag into fall camp, which opens Aug. 3.
“I just want him to finish the things and continue to do things right, like he’s been doing,” the coach said. “And then we’ll go from there.”
Watkins has not talked publicly since the arrest and is not among the players Clemson is bringing to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s football gathering this weekend.
Watkins’ attorney, Bob Ariail, said South Carolina law prevents him from discussing what his client is doing as punishment. Successful completion of the intervention program would wipe the charges off Watkins’ record.
“Like to thank everyone that is acknowledging me for the Heismen but I’m really not focused on that it’s all about Clemson my team,” Watkins said on his Twitter feed this week.