Baylor University

Danny Watkins: 'I'm going to Disneyland!'

Dec. 22, 2010

Seniors - Danny Watkins

If you happen to be at Disneyland in January and see a 6-foot-4, 310-pound man acting like a kid, give him a "sic 'em!" That will be Baylor senior Danny Watkins.

Before the season started, Watkins told one reporter that "after we win our bowl game, I'm going to Disneyland." Now that the Bears are bowl bound, he hasn't backed off that plan.

"I will send you a picture; I'm going to Disneyland!" he laughs. After the Bears secured their sixth win Watkins called his mom, "'Mom, I'm going to Disneyland!' I'm not even kidding. This is something I've put a lot of hard work and blood, sweat and tears into, and I'm gonna treat myself a little bit."

Nearing the end of his second year on Baylor's offensive line, Watkins' story is likely familiar by now.

A native of British Columbia, Watkins was a firefighter in western Canada who only began playing football at the age of 22 when he enrolled at a community college to further his firefighting career.

Four years later, he's been named to the AP's All-Big 12 first-team and the Big 12 Conference's All-Conference second team. He was the fourth overall pick in this spring's Canadian Football League draft, and has a good shot at being selected again when the NFL draft is held in April.

But even with all that -- all the accolades, all the success -- there's still a part of Watkins that misses his days as a firefighter.

"I actually lived in a fire hall for a year; that was my place of residence," he recalls. "I gave that up to go to school in California for fire science, to advance my career. Not a lot of people can say they actually lived there. It was very busy; not a lot of sleep. It was a lot of fun, though. I did nights only, but I went on calls even when it wasn't my night on. It was fun -- like a party 24/7, running on no sleep, and running into burning buildings, if you can think of it that way."

Asked to compare the thrill of firefighting with helping Baylor become bowl-eligible for the first time in 15 years, Watkins has a hard time choosing between the two.

"They're actually pretty similar. Firefighting, you're with the guys day in and day out. You get a big fire, you work hard, you put the fire out, and you have a good feeling. Here, you're with the boys, working hard in the trenches, you get a win, it feels good."

After thinking it over for a bit, Watkins says getting that sixth win was a little more thrilling, both for its rarity -- "there will be plenty of fires," he notes -- and for the joy it brought his teammates. "It's an honor and a privilege, a humbling experience" to be part of the Bears' first bowl-bound team since 1994, he says.

And if one decides to celebrate that honor by riding Space Mountain or having dinner with Mickey Mouse... Well, that's just Danny Watkins.

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