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Eyes on the Tigers at Clemson pro day

Posted Mar 7, 2014

CLEMSON, S.C. – It was a similar setting for the Clemson players participating in Thursday's pro day and a familiar outcome with standout quarterback Tajh Boyd leading the way.

"We've all been together for the last few days prepping for this moment to maximize our opportunity," wide receiver Sammy Watkins said. "I think every guy did that, and Tajh led the group today.

"I've been with Tajh for three years, and there is nobody with his character. Nobody like him. He's a leader all the time."

With Watkins and Martavis Bryant as his receivers, Brandon Ford at tight end and Roderick McDowell at running back, Boyd threw a wide range of passes for a bevy of NFL scouts at Clemson's indoor practice facility.

He was sharp and threw the ball with sufficient zip. When he was finished, there was only one recorded incomplete pass – a drop on a deep ball by Bryant.

"A lot of people had questions about my accuracy and my arm strength," Boyd said. "I felt like I came out here and answered a lot of the questions.

"Whatever round I go in, whatever team I go to, it's fine with me. I just want an opportunity. I'm going to try to make the most of it."

WATKINS ON DISPLAY: After excelling at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month, Watkins – projected to be a top pick – only participated in Boyd's throwing session at Pro Day.

What little the explosive receiver showed was still plenty impressive. He caught everything thrown to him and displayed his trademark burst in and out of breaks.

"Growing up playing football, this is everyone's dream to get to the NFL," Watkins said. "I've always had this in the back of my head. Over the years, this is what I've worked toward. It's a blessing. Now I just have to keep getting better."

In addition to all the scouts, Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was on hand to watch Watkins and the other Tigers take part in their pro day.

Smith served as a television analyst alongside former wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and host Josina Anderson for ESPN.

And when Smith wasn't on camera, he took some time to chat with Watkins.

"It was an honor," Watkins said. "He's a guy that's been in the NFL for 10-plus years. He's so cool. I didn't want to bother him too much, but I asked him a couple questions about how he transitioned from college to the pros."

RAISING THE BAR: Offensive lineman Tyler Shatley may not be high on many draft boards, but he put on a show in the 225-pound bench press.

Shatley, a 6-foot-3, 298-pound guard, posted 40 reps. That number would have been good for second-best at the NFL Scouting Combine, just two behind North Carolina center Russell Bodine.

"I've been working on it really hard," Shatley said. "A lot of time and effort. It paid off."

Shatley started his Clemson career as a fullback before switching to defensive line and ultimately finding a home on the offensive line.

Tigers offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell sang his praises at Pro Day, saying that Shatley won every drill and pushed players like offensive lineman Brandon Thomas – an early-round projection.

"I take it very seriously," Shatley said. "If you are not trying to win every drill, then you are wasting your time, honestly. You are just cheating yourself and your teammates."