Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins cashed in on a record-setting junior season Thursday with his selection in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.
After leaving a year of college eligibility on the table, Hopkins becomes the 23rd first-round selection in Clemson history. Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller was the 22nd in 2009
Hopkins caught 82 passes, set school records with 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns to finish as Clemson’s career leader in reception yardage and was named second-team All-American.
In the Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU, his final game in a Clemson uniform, Hopkins caught 13 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns. His catch on fourth-and-16 extended Clemson’s game-winning drive. The safety he beat on the play, Eric Reid, was chosen 18th by the San Francisco 49ers.
At 20 years, 10 months and 13 days, Hopkins is the youngest first-round draft choice in Clemson history. The previous youngest was linebacker Anthony Simmons, who was drafted April 18, 1998 at the age of 21 years, 9 months and 29 days
Hopkins was the second receiver selected in the draft, following Tavon Austin of West Virginia at No. 8 by St. Louis, and one of the few offensive skill players chosen in a round weighted heavily with offensive linemen and defensive talent.
A total of 215 Clemson have been drafted by the NFL, fourth among current ACC schools. Guard Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina and Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel were drafted ahead of him.
Nine Atlantic Coast Conference wide receivers had been drafted in the first or second round since 2006.
At least four Clemson players were selected each of the past four years with the Tigers and Miami first in ACC draft selections with 19 each followed by North Carolina (18) and Virginia Tech (12).
Running back Andre Ellington, defensive end Malliciah Goodman and center Dalton Freeman are among the players likely to be drafted. Also on the radar are tight end Brandon Ford and safety Rashard Hall.