Originally created 01/30/97

Engineering helps Watkins pick Clemson



North Augusta tight end T.J. Watkins is headed to Clemson.

Watkins announced his intention to sign with Clemson on Wednesday. He chose the Tigers over South Carolina and Georgia.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Watkins said he liked the engineering department at Clemson better than South Carolina. Watkins, who has a 3.2 grade-point average, plans to major in mechanical engineering.

"I went to (South) Carolina to look at the engineering department and Clemson's was a whole lot better," Watkins said. "Mechanical engineering - that's what I want to do."

Watkins was an all-area selection by The Augusta Chronicle and was also selected to the all-region, all-area and all-state squads this season and started at tight end for South Carolina in the Shrine Bowl. He caught 28 passes for 469 yards and two scores.

Georgia coach Jim Donnan visited Watkins on Monday night, and new Clemson offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger came calling on Tuesday. South Carolina coach Brad Scott did not come on Wednesday night since Watkins had made up his mind.

"He (Ensminger) said he's going to put in a lot of passing plays and use two tight ends," Watkins said. "He said his plan is to keep the chains moving."

Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett talked to Watkins about being a designated hitter and relief pitcher on the baseball team. Clemson has been to the College World Series the previous two seasons.

Watkins, a standout catcher, will play a key role on a North Augusta baseball team that will be one of the state's favorites for the Class AAAA baseball crown.

"I like the idea of winning a bowl game and then going to the (College) World Series," Watkins said.

Watkins will be joined at Clemson by Aiken's Neely Page and Daniel's Kyle Young. The three players played together on the offensive line at the Shrine Bowl.

"I'm glad I got to play with them at the Shrine Bowl, it was a lot of fun," Watkins said. "I'm looking forward to playing with Neely and Kyle at Clemson."

BUSH CHANGES MIND: Clemson apparently lost out on Jasper County linebacker Jovan Bush, who is now leaning toward Georgia Tech. Bush, a 6-6, 250-pounder, announced his intention to go to Clemson and then changed his mind to Tennessee, but Volunteer coach Phillip Fulmer told Bush he didn't have any more scholarships.