Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.
Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.
His first entry covers the conclusion of the 2013 season, choosing an agent and kicking off his training in South Florida. Watkins will be back with a second entry on Wednesday.
This year was hard. There’s no other way to put it. Coming off an 11-2 season and Sugar Bowl appearance, we had such high expectations this year with everyone playing so well last season. Coming into my senior season, you want to improve as a player – I think I did that – but you also want your team to go further than it did the year before. But that’s the game of football.
Injuries definitely took a toll on all of us. Each week we saw guys we care a lot about go down; sometimes twice in the same week. That’s when the next guy, the younger guys, are supposed to step up and play. It’s one thing to ask a couple guys to step up, but it got to the point where most of the players on the field at the end of the season were guys that did not start at the beginning of the year.
As much as 2013 was tough for everyone, it will be good for the team next year. A lot of guys will have a bunch of experience. A lot of young guys got meaningful playing time. Every year it happens to one team; one team gets decimated by injuries. And the next year they have a bunch of guys that played meaningful snaps the year before step up, and they have a great season.