Last month, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney questioned whether receiver DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins was ready to leave school early for the NFL draft.
"I felt like he needed another year,” Swinney said. “I felt like another year would be beneficial to him from an overall growth standpoint. That's my opinion. I've said this before: unless you are a first rounder I just don't think it's worth giving up your senior year in college.”
Hopkins might not have been a first rounder when he left Clemson, but a recent video released by IMG Academy, where Hopkins’ is training, proves that Hopkins is well on his way to improving his draft status when the scouts come calling.
Hopkins, working on his hand-eye coordination, caught 31 consecutive balls – and thrust at him by the jugs machine – with one hand.
Yes, you read that right, one hand. And he alternated between left and right.
Making these catches isn’t just about coordination, it’s also about having soft hands, which is one of the biggest assets an NFL receiver can have, especially with some of the velocity NFL quarterbacks are displaying these days.
Hopkins set the school record for receiving yards (1,405) and an Atlantic Coast Conference record for receiving touchdowns (18) in 2012. But he really made a name for himself during the Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU. In the 25-24 win, Hopkins had 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
College coaches don’t usually question a player’s decision to leave school early. The most recent notable exception was former USC coach Pete Carroll questioning quarterback Mark Sanchez’s decision, which has proven to be right. But if Hopkins keeps training to this extent and can put on a similar show at the NFL combine in February and during private workouts, he might have a chance to prove his coach wrong.