Clemson has already lost a linebacker and a defensive back to the 2019 NFL Draft, and now Dexter Lawrence makes it a trifecta.
The 2017 AP All-American’s Clemson career actually ended two games earlier than he intended, such that it mattered. The Tigers rolled to the 2018 national title with wins over Notre Dame and Alabama by a combined 74-19.
Still, Lawrence will be a big loss when combined with the graduations of fellow defensive tackle Christian Wilkins plus defensive end Austin Bryant. Fellow junior Clelin Ferrell could also join Lawrence, meaning the most heralded defensive line in college football would all be gone for 2019. Lawrence’s replacement, Albert Huggins, was also a senior and is expected to be picked in this spring’s draft as well.
“I have given Clemson all I have,” Lawrence wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account. “Through prayers and conversations with my family, I believe that my next step in life is to forgo my senior season and enter the 2019 NFL Draft.”
Lawrence is widely expected to be the first of those Tigers to hear his name called, with his massive 6-foot-4, 350-pound frame and cat-like quickness. He was the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016, then a First Team All-ACC honoree in 2017 and ’18. He collected 97 career tackles, 11 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss.