What's the best thing about Nuk Hopkins? He's still getting better

Clemson junior leads nation in receiving yardage, is 'as good as there is in the country,' says Swinney

DeAndre Hopkins runs after catching a pass against Ball State

Photo by Mark Crammer

DeAndre Hopkins runs after catching a pass against Ball State

What's the best thing about Nuk Hopkins?

That's an easy one for Dabo Swinney.

Hopkins, he says, is still an ongoing work-in-progress.

"He was a great freshman - not a great wide receiver, but a great freshman," said Swinney recently. "Last year he took another step and became a great sophomore. Now he's a great junior, and he's on his way.

"And eventually, he's going to be a great NFL player, as he continues to develop, physically and mentally."

The midseason line on Hopkins is that he's already at the top of the college game.

He leads the nation in receiving yards with 777, and is ranked fifth nationally in receiving yards per game with 129.5 - the top mark in the ACC.

His eight touchdown receptions rank second nationally behind West Virginia's Stedman Bailey, who has 13.

Is Dabo Swinney surprised? Not a bit.

"I've been with Nuk for three years now, and he's been awesome since the day he got here," Swinney said. "He was not quite ready as a true freshman, but he was the best we had. He had a lot to learn. He didn't understand technically the areas he needed to improve in, and he wasn't as physical, nearly, as he needed to be. He was only 180 pounds.

"He was a young guy out there, a freshman, playing on athleticism, and we were trying to teach him every day. But he's been great from the day he got here, as far as where he is in the process."

Swinney said Hopkins' dedication in working to make himself bigger and stronger has been an essential part of his development.

"He didn't show up here like Sammy (Watkins)," Swinney said. "Sammy showed up here 205 pounds - a whole different guy. Nuk has been developing from the day he got here."

Swinney unabashedly declares Hopkins to be "as good as there is in the country."

"He does things now that you're just numb to, because you see it every day," said Swinney. "He's got a gift. And now he's put the technical part with that gift - how to run routes, how to set things up, how to read coverages, playing fast, being a complete player. When you put all that with the gift that he's got, plus the physical development, it's pretty special to watch him.

"People don't think he can run for some reason, but he can fly. He gets behind everybody, no matter. And it's because of his total development and his commitment to being a great player, an elite player, at his position."

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Comments » 5

brookesdad729 writes:

Nuk is having an unbelievable season! He has matured into one of the best in the nation and he deserves it. Keep getting him the ball and let him do what he does.Faithfulness has to be rewarded! Sammy's time will come for sure! Go Tigers!

TigerShore12 writes:

Hopkins is a true class act and what I love most is that he's humble. There's no show-boating, just stats!

lhaselden writes:

The way Nuk is playing, he will be a first round pick, this year. We need to enjoy him while he is hear and wish him the best next year in the NFL. I have seen a dozen or more NFL teams that need a receiver like him now.

omnipotent1 writes:

Maybe our best recruit for next year is getting Nuk to stay.

TrevorT writes:

The scary thing is that I think Sammy will also be back in the loop fully for the second half of the season. That's gotta make every defense left on our schedule a bit sick to their stomachs.

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