DeAndre Hopkins Explains How Clemson Keeps Producing NFL-level Talent

SANTA CLARA -- The Clemson Tigers came into Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship with a shorter list of 2019 NFL Draft talents than their counterparts, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Not if you ask some notable alumni.

For All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the next wave of NFL stars are Tigers. 

"The way they prepare here at Clemson, the strength and condition program, Joey Batson and Larry Greenlee do a good job of getting those guys ready for the next level," Hopkins said to NBC Sports Bay Area after the Tigers' stunning 44-16 blowout win in the title game. 

"I think they're definitely ready for the next level."

Clemson has produced 29 picks in the last five NFL drafts since 2014. The last time their program didn't have one of their players called come April was all the way back in 2002. 

Watching with former Clemson stars Deshaun Watson, Vic Beasley Jr. and Tajh Boyd, Hopkins witnessed one of the greatest teams in college football history. The 2018 Clemson Tigers accomplished a feat 121 years in the making, becoming the first FBS football team to go 15-0 or 16-0 since Penn in 1897. 

"To me it means a lot. I'm from Clemson, South Carolina, so to see this team do what they did … I think they are (the greatest ever)," Hopkins said. "I think they can be one of the best teams ever. Do it again next year for sure."

The last statement is what means the most to Hopkins and everyone else who once wore a Clemson Tigers jersey. Head coach Dabo Swinney took to the podium immediately after the win and said he'll soak it all up now, but get back to film on Friday and start preparing for next season. 

"I think this is the next dynasty," Hopkins said. "DeShaun Watson started it by winning a national championship here. I think those guys are going to continue it.

"I think they're gonna be here next year and the year after."

That's not hard to imagine either.

Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence wowed with his precision passing, throwing for 347 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His top target Justyn Ross was making one-handed catches as a recently-turned 19-year-old and finished the night with six catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Clemson made their fourth playoff clash with Alabama look easy. The biggest names in the NFL know too, these could be the next stars of not only Saturdays, but quickly Sundays before we know it.

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