TORONTO – When Toronto Argonauts rookie, import starting cornerback, Patrick Watkins, made the leap to the Canadian Football League during the 2011 offseason, no one including himself could have imagined a more ideal outcome.
Watkins was a member of one of the most consistent defences in the CFL in 2012. The Argos’ ball-hawking secondary recorded a sensational twenty-four interceptions during the regular season ranking second in the Canadian Football League. At the conclusion of the Argos’ 18-game schedule, Watkins received CFL All-Star honours as a result of his fantastic play in his rookie year. While the 30-year old Tallahassee, Florida native has had a tremendous start to his CFL career with the Boatmen, he admits that his performance in 2012 even exceeded all of his personal expectations.
“It’s a great feeling because I’ve been through the highs and lows. I’ve had a serious knee injury and I was able to fight back. I came back and I was determined to just play to the best of my abilities. I did not think it was going to lead me to an all-star selection but I just wanted to play at the highest level possible”, commented Watkins following the conclusion of the 2012 regular season.
Watkins, along with fellow Argonauts’, Chad Owens and Armond Armstead, were voted as CFL All-Stars courtesy of their devoted Argos’ supporters. Owens concluded the 2012 CFL regular season with his third consecutive 3,000-yard campaign as well as the most all-purpose yards in a single-season in CFL history. Owens eclipsed Michael “Pinball” Clemons’ previous CFL record of 3,840 total yards in the Argonauts’ regular season finale against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on November 1st. For Watkins, he says it was simply an honour to watch The Flyin’ Hawaiian at work during his MOP (Most Outstanding Player) season.
“It was a great experience (watching Chad). I felt like I set a record. It was incredible to see him week-in and week-out racking up all those yards and he made everyone feel part of it”, said Watkins.
Fellow defensive rookie, Armond Armstead, concluded the 2012 regular season with six sacks ranking second in the Canadian Football League amongst rookie defensive lineman. Watkins’ five interceptions during the regular season were tied for second in the CFL with fellow Argonaut, Jordan Younger. Watkins’ sixty-nine tackles ranked fourteenth amongst defensive players.
The Argonauts’ stout defence flourished as the 2012 season progressed with players developing further continuity with one another. Watkins has developed into one of the premier shutdown cornerbacks in the Canadian Football League. The Argos’ pass defence allowed the second least passing touchdowns in the CFL throughout the 2012 regular season.
CFL teams have certainly begun taking notice of this tantalizing Argonauts secondary. As Watkins explains, it was necessary for the Argos to present as many different defensive schemes as possible in order to remain successful against the opposition.
“As a defence, we just needed to go out and present as many different defensive looks as possible”, stated Watkins.
Pat credits the Argonauts coaching staff for the unpredictability presented by the Double Blue defence. Watkins also benefited from a position change in 2012. For virtually his entire professional football career Watkins has played the safety position. However, upon arriving in Toronto, he made the move to cornerback and has thrived in his new role. At six feet, 5 inches tall and 205 pounds, Watkins possesses tremendous size, speed, and strength, which makes him one of the toughest cornerback’s in the CFL. Watkins forced seven turnovers in his rookie campaign while the Argonauts’ secondary allowed the lowest completion percentage in 2012.
Despite missing the Argonauts’ final two playoff games, Watkins culminated his rookie campaign as a Grey Cup Champion. Pat has faced plenty of adversity in his past two years of professional football. After missing the entirety of 2011 recovering from a knee injury, Watkins has remarkably become one of the most consistent defensive players in the Canadian Football League. It was just eight months ago that Watkins was out of football and contemplating his future. However, a sensational 2012 season has rejuvenated his football career and it appears that he has finally found himself a permanent football home in Toronto as a member of the Argonauts.
– Daniele Franceschi-