Clemson University

Deshaun Watson among Clemson juniors who will leave after 2016 season

Dabo Swinney previews upcoming Clemson game vs. Pitt

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney looks ahead to the Tigers' home game against Pittsburgh.
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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney looks ahead to the Tigers' home game against Pittsburgh.

Clemson’s offense will be rebuilding next season.

Dabo Swinney announced at his Tuesday news conference that several Clemson juniors – including quarterback Deshaun Watson – will be honored on Senior Day when the Tigers host Pitt on Saturday.

Swinney said Watson, running back Wayne Gallman and receivers Artavis Scott and Mike Williams are leaving.

All four players are scheduled to graduate in December.

“They are seniors. Those guys indicated to me back in the summer that this was going to be it for them and they were graduating in December,” Swinney said. “All of those guys are planning on moving on. We definitely want to honor them while we have the opportunity. They’ve earned it.”

Watson, an All-American, has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,497 yards and 24 touchdowns through nine games. He also has rushed for 370 yards and two scores.

Williams, who sat out last season, leads the Tigers with 52 catches, 754 yards and five touchdowns.

Watson and Williams are expected to be first-round picks. Gallman and Scott are more of unknowns, but Swinney said he supports both players in entering the draft.

“I think both of them are certainly ready to play at the next level,” Swinney said. “Both of those guys are going to have their degrees, and I support them 100 percent with that.”

Gallman has rushed for 634 yards and eight touchdowns, while averaging 5.3 yards per carry in 2016. Last season, as a redshirt sophomore, he was named first-team All-ACC after posting a Clemson single-season high with 1,527 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He also had 21 catches for 213 yards and a score.

“Wayne is definitely ready. He’s going to make a great, great NFL player for somebody,” Swinney said. “People have no idea what they’re getting in that guy. He is something special.”

Scott is second on the team in receptions in 2016 with 38 for 329 yards and three scores.

Last season, he led the Tigers with 93 receptions and 901 yards, while ranking second on the team with six touchdowns.

Swinney believes Scott is underrated.

“This is one of the best football players we’ve had come to Clemson since I’ve been here. He is a great football player that just happens to play wide receiver,” Swinney said. “This kid is dynamite and so dependable, tough, hard to tackle, great special teams guy, fast. … He’s going to be a great pro. There’s no question he’s going to be a great player at the next level. He’s like the Swiss army knife. He’s got a lot of options.”

NFL Draft projections

Draft stock for Clemson’s four juniors who will be leaving early:

Deshaun Watson

Projection: 1st round

Comment: Watson isn’t as polished a passer as recent early picks, but he’s shown remarkable poise throughout his career and has the dual-threat capability to fit in a scheme like Chip Kelly’s at San Francisco. – NFL.com

Mike Williams

Projection: 1st round

Comment: Fully recovered from his neck injury, he has re-emerged as one of the elite pass-catchers in the country. He’s in the same class as former Clemson stars Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. – NFL.com

Wayne Gallman

Projection: 3rd round

Comment: He profiles as one of the top backs in this year’s class. He compares to former Georgia running back (and first round pick) Knowshon Moreno. They are similar and both run a 4.5 40-yard dash. – Rotoviz.com

Artavis Scott

Projection: 4th round

Comment: He was the team’s leading pass-catcher with 76 receptions as a freshman. He uses his excellent hands, short-area quickness and tenacious running to be a multi-dimensional chess piece. – NFLdraftstock.com

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