Clemson's Dodd, Alexander, Kearse heading to the NFL

Dr. Saturday

Monday's College Football Playoff National Championship Game was the last game in a Clemson uniform for defensive end Kevin Dodd and defensive backs Mackensie Alexander and Jayron Kearse. 

All three announced Wednesday that they have declared for the 2016 NFL draft.

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Dodd, a redshirt junior, had three sacks of Alabama quarterback Jake Coker in the Tigers' 45-40 loss.

“After speaking with my family, I have decided to apply for early entry into the 2016 NFL Draft. Leaving Clemson is an extremely tough decision, but I truly feel like I am physically and mentally ready for the next challenge. We had an amazing season. I am so proud of what we accomplished, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to play football here at Clemson. Thank you to my coaches, especially Coach Swinney, Coach Venables and Coach Hobby for all they have done for me.
Thank you to my teammates and all of the academic and athletic staff here at Clemson as well. I will be staying in Clemson this Spring in order to complete my degree and graduate this coming May. Clemson Football has given me opportunities I never thought were possible. I am so proud to be a Tiger and will always be a Tiger! Clemson is truly a special place -- thank you for everything. #AllIn”

Dodd was a redshirt junior in 2015. He had 62 tackles and 23.5 tackles for loss in 15 games in 2015. He also ended up with 12 sacks, second on the team to defensive end Shaq Lawson's 12.5. Lawson announced in December that he was heading to the NFL draft. Dodd and Lawson helped give Clemson one of the best defensive lines in college football and were Nos. 1 and 2 in the nation in total tackles for loss.

Alexander, a redshirt sophomore cornerback, is a projected first round pick. After putting up an All-American season, he missed the second half of Monday's game with a hamstring injury.

In two seasons as a starter, Alexander never registered an interception, but hardly gave up any completions either. According to NFL.com's Gil Brant, heading into Monday night's game, Alexander allowed just 11 completions in 638 snaps. He also finished with 23 tackles and two tackles for loss. 

Kearse, a junior safety, also announced Wednesday that he is headed to the NFL. Kearse previously told reporters that he was projected to be a mid-second round pick. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Kearse had 62 tackles, 13 pass break-ups and one interception.

He announced the news in an Instagram post:

"First off I would like to thank Clemson University for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something very special this season. Coming to Clemson was the best decision I've made in my young career and it has been a great 3 year experience and couldn't have chosen a better university to be apart of. I will also like to thank the fans of #TigerNation for all their wonderful support towards me and this team this year, the support staff here at Clemson whose always had my back through good and bad times it has meant so much to me to be able to call Clemson my home.

"Finally, I would like to thank Coach Swinney, Coach Reed, and Coach Venables for believing in me and giving me the chance to be apart of such exceptional defenses the past 2 years. I'm thankful for everything I've been given the opportunity to achieve here, but after sitting down and talking to support staff and my family I think it's in my best interest to take the next step in my career and declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. I think the NFL is what I need to take my game to the next level and that's why I ultimately made the decision I've made. It's been great and I'll always be a Tiger and forever be grateful for this wonderful gift of me being able to be apart of Clemson University."

While Dodd and Kearse are leaving, Clemson running back Wayne Gallman tweeted he was staying for his redshirt junior season. 

Gallman had 1,565 yards rushing in 2015 with 13 touchdowns.

For more Clemson news, visit TigerIllustrated.com.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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