Sammy Watkins, one of the top wide receivers in college football, will leave Clemson and declare himself eligible for the 2014 NFL draft.
Clemson confirmed the news on Monday:
"I am very thankful for the past three years at Clemson University that have enabled me to grow academically, athletically, and spiritually," said Watkins. "After much prayerful consideration, I have decided to take the next step in pursuing my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL.
"I would not have this opportunity without the support and encouragement of my family, coaches, teammates, and the best fans in college football. No matter where my next steps may lead, I will always take pride in the PAW and will forever be a part of the Clemson family."
Yahoo! Sports' Rand Getlin originally had the news:
#Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins will declare for the 2014 NFL Draft, according to multiple sources.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) January 5, 2014
Watkins is widely regarded as one of the best athletes in this draft class and will assuredly be one of the first wideouts—and possibly of any position—to be selected come May.
The 20-year-old is in possession of elite speed, athleticism, hands, leaping ability, body control and more. At 6’1”, 205 pounds, the junior certainly has the size to dominate at the next level.
He is coming off an 85-catch, 1,237-yard, 10-touchdown regular season, proving his production can match his upside and raw physical talent.
He was named an AP First-Team All-American as a freshman—becoming just the fourth true freshman to earn that distinction—and sophomore, with a chance to be named one yet again in 2013.
Watkins will almost certainly make an immediate impact, and it is no surprise to find he is projected as a top-10 pick.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller recently pegged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to nab him with the No. 9 overall selection, although much could change between now and the actual draft.
Is Sammy Watkins a top-10 pick?
One thing that is certain, however, is that Watkins will be regarded as the premier receiving prospect in this draft. He’s a special player who will undoubtedly be able to make an impact at the next level.
Expect any professional team with a hole at the position to give this young man a long look this spring. Watkins is a bona fide star in the making, and it will soon be apparent on Sundays.