MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Late online reports Saturday night quoted sources as indicating Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland are set to declare for the NFL draft.
Both players are juniors. Clemson University is not expected to release any information until later Sunday or Monday.
Watkins, of course, is no surprise. His 101 catches, 1,464 yards and 12 catches landed him inside or tied for the top ten nationally in all three categories. After his sensational Orange Bowl MVP effort (16 catches, 227 yards), Watkins said he wasn’t ready to officially announce his intentions, but his comments and those of head coach Dabo Swinney made it clear this was his last game.
Breeland isn’t a complete shock; he’s spoken before of being interested in going pro, and hasn’t spoken much with the media in the past couple of months. He was second-team all-ACC, developing into the Tigers’ most sound cover corner, and co-leading the team with four interceptions.
Paired with Darius Robinson’s graduation, this would deprive Clemson (11-2) of both its starting corners going into 2014. That opens opportunities for top reserves Garry Peters and Martin Jenkins, plus younger players like freshman nickel Korrin Wiggins and highly-touted Mackensie Alexander, who redshirted 2013 with a groin injury but has been participating in bowl practice.
In the locker room following Clemson’s 40-35 Orange Bowl victory Friday over Ohio State, four juniors – wide receiver Adam Humphries, defensive end Corey Crawford, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and safety Robert Smith – specifically told The Post and Courier they were returning for their senior seasons.
Of course, junior defensive end Vic Beasley and junior wide receiver Martavis Bryant are yet to announce their intentions. Linebacker Stephone Anthony is another name to remember in the coming days.