DeAndre Hopkins

Clemson’s new weapon at WR carries No. 21 Tigers to 34-20 victory over Wake Forest

4 Comments

Clemson quarterbacks have had the luxury of throwing passes to Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant in recent years. Freshman Artavis Scott is the program’s new emerging star.

Scott proved to be the deciding factor Thursday night with eight catches for 122 yards and a pair of touchdown receptions as the No. 21 Clemson Tigers claimed a 34-20 victory over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The second touchdown was pivotal with the game tied 20-20 in the fourth quarter.

The freshman pulled a Watkins by scoring a long touchdown on a fly sweep. After Wake Forest kicker Mike Weaver converted a 31-yard field goal, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris decided to get the ball into the hands of the team’s top play-maker. Scott raced around the Tigers’ right tackle on his way to a 66-yard touchdown romp.

It was the knockout blow for a Clemson squad that allowed a struggling Wake Forest program to hang around for far too long.

Scott wasn’t the only freshman to come up big in the game. Running back Wayne Gallman carried the ball 19 times for 106 yards and a touchdown. Gallman also got the offense on track in the second quarterback with a beautifully timed screen pass for 18 yards that resulted in the Tigers’ first touchdown.

The Tigers will have to continue to lean on these talented underclassmen since senior quarterback Cole Stoudt continues to be inconsistent.

Despite the two-score victory, some still weren’t impressed with the effort.

After all, Wake Forest entered the game with college football’s worst offense. Clemson’s talented defense was continually placed in poor situations, and the unit allowed the Demon Deacons to score multiple times despite only managing 122 total yards.

A win is still a win, and Clemson remains one game behind the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles in the ACC Atlantic. It’s a crucial to be the ACC’s No. 2 team to potentially earn a New Year’s bowl berth with Florida State expected to make the first College Football Playoff. That spot could belong to Clemson if the Tigers continue to find ways to win.

Mid-season Biletnikoff check: Who’s leading the pack?

10 Comments

Last season, USC’s Marqise Lee won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s finest wide receiver, beating out quality players such as Terrance Williams of Baylor, Stedman Bailey of West Virginia, DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson, Cobi Hamilton of Arkansas and Austin Hill of Arizona.

With this year halfway over, we’ve got another fine group of receivers vying for the award. Here are the top five candidates for the Biletnikoff at the mid-season point:

1. Brandin Cooks, Jr., Oregon State — If the Biletnikoff was handed out today, Cooks would probably run away with it. Through six games, the junior already has 63 catches for 944 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s caught at least two touchdown passes in five of his outings this year. He’s on pace to challenge the NCAA record for most receiving yards in a season (2,060) set by Trevor Insley of Nevada in 1999. Can he keep it up? With the meat of OSU’s schedule approaching, it’s going to be tough. Barring a collapse on his part, though, he has to be considered the heavy favorite to win his school’s second Biletnikoff, with Mike Haas being the other in 2005.

2. Antwan Goodley, Jr., Baylor — After catching a combined 19 passes his first two seasons, Goodley has burst onto the scene this year, emerging as the main deep threat in Baylor’s explosive offense. Goodley has 26 catches for 679 yards and six touchdowns and is averaging an incredible 26 yards per reception. The junior leads the nation with five receptions of 60 yards or more and has two of 70 or more. With his combination of speed and strength, he’s looking like a potential high NFL draft pick next spring.

3. Mike Evans, So., Texas A&M — We all saw the way Evans dominated against No. 1 Alabama, catching seven passes for 279 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown run late in the game.  The 6-5 sophomore is Johnny Manziel’s No. 1 target, with 32 receptions for 737 yards and five touchdowns and a 23 yards-per-catch average so far.

4. Jared Abbredaris, Sr., Wisconsin — Abbredaris has an amazing knack for getting open and has become the heart and soul of the Badgers offense. His resume this year includes a 10-catch, 207-yard effort against Ohio State. On the season, he’s got 35 catches for 646 yards and five touchdowns.

5. Paul Richardson, Jr., Colorado — Richardson has overcome a knee injury to become one of the best receivers in the country. He’s perhaps the lone bright spot on what is shaping up to be another dismal Colorado team. On the season, he has 35 catches for 660 yards and five touchdowns. He’s slowed down a bit after opening the year with two 200-yard receiving games.

Honorable mention: Jeremy Johnson, SMU; Tevin Reese, Baylor; Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt; Jaelen Strong, Arizona State; Odell Beckham, LSU.

Sammy Watkins’ spring performance brings optimism for 2013

Leave a comment

Disappointing by Sammy Watkins‘ standards, that is. In all honesty, 708 yards receiving and a four total touchdowns — a modest four, sure — is nothing to scoff at, but those 2012 numbers didn’t come close to what Watkins pulled in as a freshman two years ago (1,219 yards receiving, 12 touchdowns).

There were reasons: Watkins spent the first two games on the sidelines because of an offseason drug arrest. He later missed a game because of an illness and missed all but one play of the Chick-fil-A bowl because of an injury.

But Watkins got back on track during Clemson’s spring game on Saturday. The junior caught seven passes for 156 yards and a pair of scores of 41 and 50 yards from quarterback Cole Stoudt, with Watkins doing most of the work on the 50-yard touchdown.

When asked what he has been working on for this year, Watkins said “Just doing things better, working hard for my releases and just going up for the ball. Those are things I’ve got to work on for next season.”

Watkins’ sophomore campaign was overshadowed by the gaudy numbers of DeAndre Hopkins, who had 1,405 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns. With Hopkins gone, 2013 is an opportunity for Watkins to get back to the All-American level he played to in 2011.

Record number of underclassmen enter NFL draft

15 Comments

We’ve been keeping track of underclassmen who have declared for this year’s NFL draft. This morning, the NFL released its list of 73 underclassmen who have been granted “special eligibility” for the draft by being at least three years removed from high school before declaring.

That number is a new record, breaking the one held in 2012 with 65 underclassmen declaring. In 2011, 56 players left early and 53 took off in 2010. In fact, the 73 who declared this year is 30 more than in 2004.

Of the 73 players, 33 come from SEC schools, or began their careers at SEC schools. That’s far and away the most of any conference. LSU has 11 underclassmen with ties to the program represented.

You can view the NFL’s release HEREbut here’s the alphabetized list.

Keenan Allen WR, California
David Amerson DB, North Carolina State
Alvin Bailey G, Arkansas
Stedman Bailey WR, West Virginia
David Bakhtiari T, Colorado
Dwayne Beckford LB, Purdue
Le’Veon Bell RB, Michigan State
Giovani Bernard RB, North Carolina
Tyler Bray QB,Tennessee
Terrence Brown DB, Stanford
Duron Carter WR, Ohio State
Knile Davis RB, Arkansas
Mike Edwards DB, Hawaii
Matt Elam DB, Florida
Zach Ertz TE, Stanford
Gavin Escobar TE, San Diego State
Chris Faulk T, Louisiana State
Sharrif Floyd DT, Florida
Michael Ford RB, Louisiana State
Travis Frederick C, Wisconsin
Kwame Geathers NT, Georgia
William Gholston DE, Michigan State
Johnathan Hankins DT, Ohio State
Jajuan Harley DB, Middle Tennessee
DeAndre HopkinsWR, Clemson
Justin Hunter WR, Tennessee
Jawan Jamison RB, Rutgers
Stefphon Jefferson RB, Nevada
Tony Jefferson DB, Oklahoma
Jelani Jenkins LB, Florida
Luke Joeckel T, Texas A&M
Jarvis Jones LB, Georgia
Jose Jose DT, Central Florida
Joe Kruger DE, Utah
Eddie Lacy RB, Alabama
Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina
Corey Lemonier DE, Auburn
Bennie Logan DT, Louisiana State
Stansly Maponga DE, Texas Christian
Tyrann Mathieu DB, Louisiana State
Dee Milliner DB, Alabama
Barkevious Mingo DE, Louisiana State
Kevin Minter LB, Louisiana State
Sam Montgomery DE, Louisiana State
Brandon Moore DT, Texas
Damontre Moore DE, Texas A&M
Alec Ogletree LB, Georgia
Cordarrelle Patterson WR, Tennessee
Bradley Randle RB, Nevada-Las Vegas
Joseph Randle RB, Oklahoma State
Jordan Reed TE, Florida
Eric Reid DB, Louisiana State
Greg Reid DB, Florida State
Xavier Rhodes DB, Florida State
Sheldon Richardson DT, Missouri
Nickell Robey DB, Southern California
Logan Ryan DB, Rutgers
Ace Sanders WR, South Carolina
Darrington Sentimore DT, Tennessee
Tharold Simon DB, Louisiana State
Dion Sims TE, Michigan State
Akeem Spence DT, Illinois
Kenny Stills WR, Oklahoma
Levine Toilolo TE, Stanford
Spencer Ware RB, Louisiana State
Menelik Watson T, Florida State
Bjoern Werner DE, Florida State
Steve Williams DB, California
Marquess Wilson WR, Washington State
Brad Wing P, Louisiana State
Cierre Wood RB, Notre Dame
Robert Woods WR, Southern California
Tom Wort LB, Oklahoma

DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson’s leading WR, to turn pro

4 Comments

Clemson received great news yesterday when quarterback Tajh Boyd announced he would be returning for another year with the Tigers. While not completely unexpected, Clemson won’t be as lucky two times in a row.

The Tigers’ leading receiver in 2012, DeAndre Hopkins, said that he will be foregoing another year in college and turn his attention to the upcoming NFL Draft. Hopkins made the announcement via his Twitter account and explained his decision in a statement:

“It’s tough to leave because this is my home, this is the place I wanted to play since I came out of the womb. But, I feel it’s best for me and my family to take my talents to the NFL at this time.

“I have to thank the Clemson alumni, the fans, the coaches and my teammates for all the support they have given me through the good times and the bad. No matter what I will always be a Clemson Tiger.”

Hopkins had 1,405 yards receiving and 18 touchdowns this past year, including a 13-grab, 191-yard performance with two touchdowns in a thrilling Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU. He departs the program holding 14 receiving records, over 3,000 yards receiving and 27 touchdowns.

“Nuk was a big reason we won 11 games and reached a final No. 10 national ranking,” coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement. “We have had many talks and he feels it is the best thing for he and his family. I fully support him in his decision.

“He will make an outstanding professional. He has the best hands and ability to catch the ball in traffic I have seen in a long time. He has done a lot for this program and we wish him much success at the next level. We all look forward to following his progress.”

The departure will be noticed, certainly, but Clemson has a number of offensive weapons coming back in 2013, including another receiver by the name of Sammy Watkins.