You can't win 'em all.
The Tigers weren’t so lucky on Thursday.
Receiver DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins, Clemson’s leading receiver and one of the best in the country, announced on Twitter that he will leave school early and enter the NFL draft. Here’s the thing, though -- Clemson’s offense is so loaded with talent that the Tigers should still be just fine without Hopkins, and this announcement should hardly come as a surprise. Even without their record-setting wideout, Clemson still returns players who caught 161 passes for 1,719 yards in 2012.
Hopkins will be missed, but Boyd is still going to have plenty of options.
Despite his inconsistent, injury-plagued season that also included a suspension, Sammy Watkins was second on the team with 57 catches for 708 yards and three touchdowns. He was overshadowed by Hopkins this past fall -- and deservedly so -- but this will give Watkins a chance to remind college football fans what made him so special as a true freshman two years ago. Clemson also returns its No. 3 receiver, Adam Humphries, who had 41 receptions last year. And don’t forget about Charone Peake (25 catches), Martavis Bryant (10 receptions), and Germone Hopper, a talented option who redshirted this past year as a true freshman. Hopper was rated the No. 4 player in North Carolina by ESPN.com and the No. 13 receiver in his recruiting class.
Hopkins was projected to be drafted somewhere between late in the first round to mid-second round. His name is all over the record books. There’s not much more he can do at Clemson besides win a national title and risk injury. He has left his mark.
He has also left plenty of talented teammates behind to try and pick up where he left off.