Clemson WR Watkins to turn pro

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Updated: 1/06 5:27 pm

Clemson, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins will forego his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.

Watkins is projected to be a first-round selection after setting 23 school records in just three years.

"I am very thankful for the past three years at Clemson University that have enabled me to grow academically, athletically, and spiritually," Watkins said in a statement Monday. "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."

Watkins set a pair of Clemson single-season records with 101 receptions and 1,464 yards in 2013. He concluded his collegiate career with a monster performance in the Orange Bowl, catching 16 passes for 227 yards - both Clemson single-game records - and two touchdowns in the Tigers' 40-35 win over Ohio State.

The Florida native departs Clemson as the school's leader in receptions (240) and receiving yards (3,391), while his 27 touchdown grabs are tied with 2012 first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins for the most in school history.

Two other Tigers announced their intentions to join Watkins, with fellow wide receiver Martavis Bryant and defensive back Bashaud Breeland making themselves available for the 2014 NFL Draft.

Bryant, a junior, finished the 2013 season with 42 receptions for 846 yards and seven touchdowns, moving his career totals to 61 catches for 1,372 yards and 13 scores.

Bryant averaged 22.5 yards per catch over his career, surpassing Joe Blalock's school record of 20.3 yards that had stood since 1941.

Breeland, also a junior, earned second-team All-ACC honors after leading the Tigers with four interceptions and 13 passes defensed this past season.

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