Philadelphia Eagles rookie offensive guard Danny Watkins has had a long journey into the game if football. He never played the sport in high school. Instead, he played both rugby and hockey in high school as the team's enforcer.
Watkins had clearly outgrew the sport of hockey as a 270 pounds senior in high school. After high school, Watkins became a firefighter for the West Kelowna fire department until he was 22. Watkins then decided to enroll at Butte College in 2007 to study fire sciences to further his firefighter career.
While at Butte, he was recruited by the coaching staff to play football. Watkins played two years at Butte College, helping them reach a perfect record of 11-0 in 2008. Watkins game tape was sent to several FBS schools, including Baylor, where he decided to transfer to following the 2008 season.
Watkins started all 25 games in 2009 and 2010 at Baylor at left tackle. Watkins made the switch at guard during the Senior Bowl, a position he was projected to be a better fit in the NFL. Watkins was the 23rd overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft as a 26 year old rookie offensive lineman.
On August 3, two days after Watkins signed his first NFL contract, he joined the Eagles at training camp at Lehigh. Watkins may have been the most impressive player that day in training camp, but it had very little to do with football.
Early on in Wednesday's practice, Mike Patterson collapsed and suffered a seizure. Watkins was one of the first people to come to Patterson's aide along with the training staff of the Eagles. Watkins, along with the paramedics, helped hook Patterson up to an IV and loaded him up in the ambulance. Watkins then resumed practice with the rest of the linemen.
Watkins, who had training as an emergency medical technician, said about his aide of a fallen teammate, "You see something like that and you automatically want to help the guy."
Watkins is a hero in every sense of the word. He has sacrificed his life for four years as a firefighter in British Columbia and took advantage of his training as an EMT to help a teammate.
Watkins is a blue collar-type lineman who fans will fall in love with, especially in a town that really appreciates his first sport, hockey.
Danny Watkins is projected to be the Eagles starting right guard, taking over for last year's starter, Max Jean-Gilles, who is now a Cincinnati Bengal. Some stability at right guard should go a long way in the Eagles decreasing the numbers of sacks they gave up from last year, 49.
Watkins has already had an impressive career already, playing two of the toughest sports—rugby and hockey. He also served in West Kelowna, B.C. as a firefighter for four years. He has only four years of competitive football under his belt, excited to see what he can do with some top notch coaching from offensive line coach Howard Mudd.
It appears the Eagles have a new fan favorite at right guard after only day with the team, Danny Watkins is already making his mark.