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Clemson WR Hopkins heading to the NFL

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson record-setting receiver DeAndre Hopkins is heading to the NFL and skipping his final season of college.

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Hopkins said on Twitter on Thursday that while he enjoyed his time with the Tigers, he is ready for the next level. Clemson athletics spokesman Tim Bourret confirmed that Hopkins is making himself eligible for the NFL draft in April.

``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,'' Hopkins said in statement from the school. ``But, I feel it is best for me and my family to take my talents to NFL at this time.''

Hopkins had a been a solid performer his first two seasons, but broke out in a big way this past fall with a school record 1,405 yards receiving on 82 catches. His 18 touchdowns were an Atlantic Coast Conference record.

He closed his college career in impressive fashion with 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a Chick-Fil-A Bowl victory over LSU. Hopkins made a sliding, 26-yard catch on fourth-and-16 to keep the Tigers game-winning drive alive in the 25-24 win.

Hopkins play this season has him going in the late first-round in several NFL mock drafts, projections apparently too good for him to pass up.

``It's been one hell of a ride tiger nation but I'm takin my talents to the next level (tag) nfl,'' Hopkins tweeted.

Hopkins spoke with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney several times before making his decision.

``I fully support him,'' Swinney said.

The coach said Hopkins would make an exceptional NFL player.

``He has the best hands and ability to catch the ball in traffic I have seen in a long time,'' Swinney said.

Hopkins established Clemson career records with 27 touchdown receptions, 12 100-yard receiving games and 3,020 total reception yards. He is second in total receptions with 206 for his 39 career games. The 191-yard game in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was his sixth 100-yard game of the year, tying the Clemson single season mark. He caught at least one pass in each of his last 36 games to tie Jerry Butler's (1975-78) record.

Hopkins also tied the Clemson mark for touchdown receptions in a game with three on two occasions this year, once against Ball State and once at Duke. Twice he scored three touchdowns in under nine minutes.

On Wednesday, ACC player of the year Tajh Boyd chose to return to Clemson instead of jumping to the NFL. The Tigers still feature former All-American wideout Sammy Watkins, who'll be a junior next fall.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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