Tigers’ Hopkins headed for NFL
CLEMSON — It has almost been a perfect offseason to date for Clemson football, almost.
After securing the services of offensive coordinator Chad Morris and quarterback Tajh Boyd for another season, Clemson wasn’t able to make it a perfect 3-for-3 with its up-in-the-air assets for 2013, as receiver DeAndre Hopkins declared for the NFL Draft on Thursday.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd is returning in large part for legacy motivations as he was not in line for a seven-figure signing bonus.
Hopkins, a projected late first or second-round pick, is expected to earn a signing bonus well over one million dollars.
For reference, former South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery was selected in the middle of the second round last season, 45th overall, and took home a $1.74 million signing bonus. Bonuses are typically the only guaranteed dollars in NFL contracts.
After setting Clemson single-season records with receptions (82), yards (1,405) and touchdowns (18) in 2012, Hopkins might have reached his college ceiling.
Hopkins rarely met with the media throughout his career and announced his decision on Twitter, and Clemson later released a statement.
“It is tough to leave because this is my home; this is the place I wanted to play since I came out of the womb,” said Hopkins, a Central native. “But I feel it is best for me and my family to take my talents to NFL at this time.”
While Hopkins was one of the best receivers in program history, owning a rare combination of hands, body control and competitiveness, Clemson’s offense should still operate at a high level in 2013.
Receiver is perhaps the deepest position on the Clemson roster. Sammy Watkins could bounce back to his 2011 form if he can remain healthy, and he’ll be motivated to perform well as he will be eligible for next year’s NFL Draft. Moreover, Hopkins’ departure will allow talented rising junior receivers like Martavis Bryant, Charone Peake and Adam Humphries more opportunities. Freshman Germone Hoppers has also received positive reviews.
The Clemson offense is also returning one of its best all-time quarterbacks in Boyd and four starting offensive linemen.
The offense will still be led by Morris, who interviewed for the Texas Tech and N.C. State head coach openings last month,
Hopkins’ departure is a significant loss, but returning two of three of its key offensive assets in question isn’t a bad start to the offseason for Clemson.