Martavis Bryant

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

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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.

Academics sideline Clemson’s Germone Hopper for rest of spring

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A player expected to help try to replace the production lost with the departures of Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant will have to wait until summer camp to show just what he may be capable of.

Head coach Dabo Swinney confirmed following practice Monday that Germone Hopper will not participate in the remainder of the spring practice sessions so as to get his academic house in order.  Swinney’s revelation comes as the Tigers are shutting down spring practice for the time being as spring break at the school commences.

“He’s a good young man, talented, but not very focused or committed to doing what he needs to do academically,” Swinney said. “So I’m giving him some time to go focus at Vickery Hall (student-athlete academic center). That’s what he’s going to be working on these next few weeks.”

Hopper’s 23 receptions a year ago are the second-most for any returning receiver.  This is the second time in a little over five months Hopper has found himself in Swinney’s doghouse.  In mid-October of last year, Hopper was one of two players hit with a one-game suspension for violating unspecified team rules.

The Tigers must find a way to replace the 143 receptions, 2,292 yards and 19 touchdowns produced by the Watkins/Bryant tandem in 2013, in addition to replacing four-year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd.

Tide’s Sunseri one of record 98 players declaring for draft

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A draft-eligible Alabama rumored to be headed to the NFL — or not — will indeed be a part of a record-breaking pool this May.

Tide defensive back Vinnie Sunseri was one of 98 players included on the NFL’s official list, released Sunday, of players “who have been granted special eligibility” for the upcoming draft.  It was reported a week ago that the safety was leaning toward making the early leap into the NFL, although there was some vacillation as the redshirt junior waited until right up until the Jan. 15 deadline — plus the three additional days allotted to reconsider, provided there’s no signing with an agent — before making his final decision.

Sunseri is still rehabbing a torn ACL, which he suffered in a mid-October win over Arkansas.

The 98 players granted special eligibility by the NFL is a record, shattering and/or obliterating the old mark of 73 set just last year.  That standard broke the record of 65 set the year before that.  In 2004, just 43 players with eligibility remaining left school early.

For the second consecutive year, LSU led all schools with seven early entrants.  In 2013, the Tigers saw 10 players leave early.  Sunseri gave the Tide five players leaving early, the same number as USC and one-win Cal (?).  Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and South Carolina each saw four players take the early jump into the NFL.

2014 marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of early entrants has increased.

The number could have actually topped the century mark as four players who have left school early but have already graduated were not included in the NFL’s official count: Southern California defensive back Dion Bailey, Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard.

You can view the complete, official list of early entrants into the NFL draft:

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An unofficial list of underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft

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The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is upon us. It looks like we’ll have a record 92 (at minimum) declarations this year, easily topping last year’s record of 73. This draft should be among the most talent-laden in recent history.

Why the sudden exodus? Blame the new rookie wage scale, which rewards less money to first round draft picks and delays the big payout until a player’s second contract. That means the more time spent in the league, the better. A lot of these players want to get moving on proving themselves, even if they are a late round pick at the start.

Here’s the unofficial list of early entries as of the Jan. 15 deadline. The NFL will have an official list on Jan. 19:

Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
George Atkinson III, RB, Notre Dame
Dion Bailey, S, USC
Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt
Carl Bradford, DE/OLB, Arizona State
Bashaud Breeland, DB, Clemson
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DB, Alabama
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
Mike Flacco, TE, New Haven
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Xavier Grimble, TE, USC
Vic Hampton, CB, South Carolina
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
Kameron Jackson, CB, California
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Aaron Lynch, DE, USF
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Viliami Moala, DT, California
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Jeoffrey Pagan, DL, Alabama
Ronald Powell, LB, Florida
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Kelcy Quarles, DL, South Carolina
Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Richard Rodgers, TE California
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
Willie Snead, WR, Ball State
Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Trai Turner, OG, LSU
George Uko, DL, USC
Pierre Warren, FS, Jacksonville State
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Terrance West, RB, Towson
James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State
David Yankey, OL, Stanford

Reports: Clemson losing WRs Watkins, Bryant to NFL

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Clemson’s production and experience at the wide receiver position for 2014 has taken a twin, albeit expected hit.

Yahoo! is reporting that Sammy Watkins, to the surprise of no one, has decided to make himself available for the 2014 NFL draft.  Additionally, Martavis Bryant confirmed in a text message to the Charleston Post & Courier that he too has decided to leave the Tigers early for the NFL.

“I have decided to enter the draft, it’s best for me and my family,” the receiver wrote.

The school has yet to publicly disclose the future football intentions of the two players.

In 2013, Watkins and Bryant combined for 143 catches for 2,291 yards and 19 touchdowns, with the majority of that production coming from the former (101-1,464-12).  Watkins is expected by many to be the first wide receiver taken in the draft.

The Tigers will also lose senior starting quarterback Tajh Boyd.