October 6, 2010
Senior offensive tackle Danny Watkins had some big shoes to fill when he transferred to Baylor for the 2009 season, taking over at left tackle for departing senior Jason Smith -- the second overall pick in that spring's NFL Draft. Watkins faced a steep learning curve, shifting gears from the world of firefighting to junior college football to life in the Big 12 Conference, all in just three years. But that's just the beginning of what you should know about Danny Watkins.
Even now, Watkins is only in his fourth year of playing football - ever. A native of British Columbia, Watkins enrolled at Butte College in California in 2007 at the age of 22 to further his career as a firefighter. Growing up in Canada, Watkins had played years of hockey but never a down of football. Intrigued by his size, however, the Butte coaches had Watkins walk onto the Roadrunners football team, and two seasons later he left as a junior college all-American.
- He's Canadian, eh? Watkins was born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia, about 80 miles from the U.S. border. It's easy to imagine that he might pine for the cool summers or the wintry Christmas of his homeland, but no; the thing he misses most? "That's easy," he says. "Poutine." What's poutine, you ask? French fries with fresh cheese curd and brown gravy. Mmmmmm.
- Watkins is a cut-up. Asked what people should know about him, Watkins' response covered his ringtone (Abba's "Dancng Queen"), the top speed on the scooter he rides to practice (27 mph), and his two golden retrievers (Tower and Tank, who share his bed). He also describes firefighting as "a 24/7 party with no sleep and running into burning buildings" and declared only half-jokingly that readers should know that "after we win our bowl game, I'm going to Disneyland."
- Should football not pan out, he would be more than happy to return to firefighting. At the age of 16, Watkins discovered the local fireman's junior program. "I started rolling on calls when I was 17, and I knew that's what I was going to do," he says. "I actually lived in a fire hall for a year. I worked nights, and even went on calls when it wasn't my night on. I'd go back there in a heartbeat."
- That career move is unlikely, because Watkins is a legitimate NFL prospect. Anyone who doubts his pro potential need only check the results of this spring's Canadian Football League draft, where Watkins was the No. 4 overall pick by the B.C. Lions. "He understands where his potential could lead him, and that's going to be in the NFL," says head coach Art Briles. Watkins' talent also earned him a spot on the watch list for the 2010 Rotary Lombardi Award, given annually to the nation's top lineman.
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