Carlos Watkins had just won a national championship with the 2017 Clemson Tigers. He had played in the Fiesta Bowl with a Tigers defense that shut out Ohio State 31-0 in the semifinals.
The defensive lineman wanted to showcase his skills and accepted his invitation to play in the Senior Bowl game later just two weeks after hoisting a championship trophy with his teammates.
“For guys who are debating on it, whether or not to play in it, I would tell guys to play in it,” Watkins said on Texans Radio last month. “It’s a good experience because you’re playing against the best of the best, like seniors in college. Also, you get to meet with coaches and get some good exposure so definitely guys who are debating playing in it, should play in it.”
Watkins recorded 10.5 sacks in 2016, more than another other defensive tackle in Clemson’s school history. He also recorded 82 tackles, 13.5 for loss, 13 quarterback pressures and four pass breakups, earning Defensive Team MVP co-honors along with linebacker Ben Boulware.
Despite 15 starts his senior year, Watkins had more to prove and felt the Reese’s Senior Bowl offered a unique advantage.
“I felt like I had a great experience playing with guys, meeting guys from all over the country and talking to coaches,” Watkins said. “So, I had a really great time.”
The Texans drafted Watkins with the 36th pick of the fourth round (142nd overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft. Watkins saw action in 11 games with five starts as a rookie, finishing with 17 tackles, including seven solo, three tackles for loss and one pass defensed.
This year, the Texans will coach the South team while the Broncos will take over the North team. The 69th Reese’s Senior Bowl is scheduled for January 27 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. CT.