Perseverance pays for Watkins

Perseverance pays for Watkins

Kelowna’s Danny Watkins (63) was recently named to Pro Football Weekly’s 2011 All-Rookie Team, adding another chapter to the remarkable story of a British Columbia fire fighter turned football star.

Watkins was the fifth offensive lineman and second interior lineman selected (23rd overall) in the 2011 NFL Draft draft. Despite a slow start to the season, Watkins started each of the final 12 games of the season and helped the Eagles set franchise records for total net yards and first downs.

“It’s been a steady increase in progress,” Watkins told philadelphiaeagles.com writer Chris McPherson late in the season. “Each week was getting better and better and better. Learning something new, getting more confident.”

Born and raised in British Columbia, Watkins didn’t pick up the game of football until he was a 22-year-old firefighter at a junior college. He transferred to Baylor in 2009 and earned All-Big 12 honors as a senior.

Watkins struggled in his first NFL training camp however, failing to master the nuances required to play on an NFL line.

Yet Watkins persevered and earned a start in Buffalo in week five. He never looked back, helping the Eagles earn the Madden Protectors Award for top offensive line of the week twice.

“I’m not getting complacent with anything,” Watkins told McPherson.

Watkins (23rd) and former OVFL Scarborough Thunder lineman Orlando Franklin (46th) made history at the 2011 NFL Draft.

The two Canadians heard their names called in the 2011 NFL draft, a feat (two Canadians being selected) that has happened only five times before (2009, 2005, 2003, 1992 and 1986). Yet no Canadians have ever been selected as high in the same draft as Watkins (23rd overall) and Franklin (46th overall).