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Getting to Know: Shi’heem Watkins, SAF, Coastal Carolina University

Shi’heem Watkins the play making safety from Coastal Carolina University recently sat down with Jonathan Joyce of NFL Draft Diamonds for this exclusive interview.

Student-Athlete Profile

  • Prospect Name: Shi’heem Watkins
  • University: Coastal Carolina University
  • Position: Safety
  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 190 LBS
  • Hometown: Columbia, SC
  • Twitter: @flyeaglesfly0
via @SBPages (Twitter)

2020 was a historic season for the Chanticleer program. Coming off an 11-1 season, what are the internal expectations for the 2021 season?

The expectations are going to be set higher. We’re trying to accomplish what has never been done before and that is to finish with an undefeated season. The amount of work we’re doing, mentally and physically, to prepare ourselves to become the best version of ourselves is going to be breathtaking. Individually, we’re holding each other to a high standard and we’re not taking a step back.

Besides being a standout football player at Blythewood HS, you also lettered in Soccer. What skills, for you, translate from the soccer field to the football field?

Playing soccer has helped me with football because it’s built my communication skills. You realize that effective communication with your teammates is the best way to achieve a goal and become successful. Also, I had to become aware of my surroundings and, the majority of the time, needed to make very fast, assured decisions. Soccer builds coordination as well, which translated to football. It requires foot-eye coordination, which helps with my ball skills in football and my nice tight feet as a DB.

During your recruitment, when did you realize CCU was the right university for you?

I realized Coastal was the perfect fit when everyone made me feel like I was at home. The environment is pretty and everything, but the people are what makes it great. The coaches treat you with the utmost respect. They will sit down and listen to you about anything and do anything for you. It’s like that one family member who will do anything for you. Also, the education is great. The school has a great science program as well and that’s when I realized CCU was the perfect fit. The environment is beautiful, the people are inspiring, and there are great vibes everywhere.

What are you majoring in?

I’m currently majoring in kinesiology. My goal is to become a personal trainer and athletic trainer. You get to help people become the best version of themself. The career opportunities that exist for personal trainers are varied. Also, you will build rewarding relationships with clients and other fitness professionals. Most of all, it’s flexible.

What have you learned most, both on and off the field, from Coach Chadwell, Coach Foster, and the rest of the CCU staff?

You learn how to become a man, honestly. Coach Chadwell and the staff provide you with the tools and knowledge to become successful as a man. For example, one time he taught the team how to invest in stocks, ways to build a great credit score, etc. They just taught me how to be a leader in the community and what it takes to be successful. I realized that you never know what someone is going through and the slightest thing can make their day. Coach Chadwell always tells us to smile at people, hold the door and greet people, offer to pay for their food to brighten their day, and to make you feel good.

We saw the locker-room elbow drops, the mullets, and all the swag from the team in 2020. Tell me about how that impacted the team as a whole. How close of a group did you become from the beginning of the season to the end?

Ah man! That brotherhood and swag started back in January during offseason workouts. This brotherhood is something special. I can’t even describe it. We’ve been through hell and back and face all types of adversity before. We’ve been close as a group, we just had something to prove this time.

Playing at the Safety position, you’re the last line of defense. How important is your role to the scheme?

Playing Safety, you have to be a Dog. Just like you said, we’re the last line of defense. If you make the slightest mistake, then the scoreboard will light up. Safety is important to me because it’s a lot of responsibility and challenges. You have to be very disciplined of all things. You have to be able to hold your disguise, run the ally, come downhill and fill the gaps. You can’t get beat deep. You have to be able to play man coverage, but it all boils down to maintaining leverage and having eye discipline. A lot of trust is involved with being a Safety. I am very physical and have great man technique. I am that guy who can come downhill and make tackles, but then make then plays when the ball is in the air.

What do you believe is the greatest challenge most athletes are facing today?

I think the greatest challenge athletes are facing today is people. No matter how successful you are, there are people who try to bring you down by doing anything. They’re criticizing athletes and being ignorant because that athlete isn’t doing what that person likes. It’s challenging to not want to say something to those people. It’s like people don’t want to hear your voice because athletes are just supposed to “play sports” and not have a regular life. To add to that, when an athlete does something wrong on the field (like give up a big play or have a turnover), the first thing people do is criticize that person and try to bring them down.

How do you manage your athletic responsibilities while also fulfilling your academic responsibilities?

That all deals with time management. When you manage your time, and complete homework a week in advance, then you will have more than enough time to watch film and perfect your craft.

Who is the toughest player you’ve competed against during your collegiate career?

I would have to say Jaivon Heiligh and Isaiah Likely. Those guys are the definition of legit. They both know the game well and are very talented. They’re good at attacking your leverage and selling routes. As far as games, it’s hard to say who is the toughest because the talent is mind-blowing and it varies on different teams. But yeah, Jaivon and Isaiah are definitely the toughest.

How would your coaches and teammates describe you?

Versatile, hardworking, eager, and playful. I like to have fun, joke around, and laugh but when it comes down to business there’s a switch that gets flipped. They know me for always trying to stand out and have a positive influence on people.

What’s playing in your headphones before a game?

Before games, I’ve got to have that YoungBoy playing. I’m listening to a lot of YoungBoy, Nudy, Gucci, Key Glock, Dolph, Moneybagg Yo, and Pooh Shiesty. Them boys get me in the zone.

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

It would be called “The Unimaginable.” I say that because where I’m at in life right now, I never imagined this. Growing up in Sumter, SC, and experiencing the things I have, I never thought I would be playing D1 ball or being as successful as I am in the classroom today and having a positive impact on the people around me.

Who is the best player in the NFL?

Tyrann Mathieu. He is changing the game and showing people you don’t need to be big to be good. He is 5’9” 190 LBS playing safety, nickel, corner, blitzing off the edge. He is the definition of a field general. He controls the whole defense and knows everyone’s job.

Where is the best place to eat in Conway?

Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant. It’s a seafood buffet with classic sides and steaks as well. It’s top tier, which is why it’s $35 a person.

The last question; can leadership be taught or is it something you’re born with?

In my opinion, leadership is taught. I don’t think you’re born with it simply because you’re young and have no idea about the characteristics of a solid leader. Leadership is taught through a variety of things, especially through professional athletes. Look at the successful athletes like LeBron and Cristiano Ronaldo. They show younger kids how to be a good listener, communicator, decision-maker, goal oriented, honest, hardworking, and willing to serve others.

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