The Taft High School graduate has competed 44 years as a professional rodeo contestant, focusing on team roping. He competed at the National Finals Rodeo 19 consecutive times from 1974-92. To reach the finals, a competitor must finish in the top-15 the previous year.
Along with partner Dave Motes, Watkins was a National Finals champion in 1981 and 1984 and the two teamed up to win the 1990 Dodge National Circuit Finals Team Roping championship. Most recently, Watkins and Motes teamed up to win the PRCA Gold Card Team Roping event last July in Salinas in both the open and incentive divisions.
Watkins is a four-time winner at the prestigious Reno Rodeo, twice with partner Julio Moreno (in 1978 and 1979) and twice with Motes (1974 and 1990). Watkins and Moreno were also runners-up for the World Title in 1978 and the Watkins-Motes team was runner-up for the World Title in 1990.
During the Fourth of July week in 1989, Watkins competed in 15 rodeos over a seven-day period in 1989. He had another busy stretch when he performed in four rodeos in several states over a 24-hour period.
Watkins began roping at 8 years old (first rodeo at Tehachapi at 8). He also played football and competed in track at Taft High. He still competes in about 20 rodeos a year and teaches roping out of his home in northwest Bakersfield.