After long wait, anxious moments, Nuk Hopkins finds his niche with Texans

NFL championship contenders grab Clemson star with 27th pick; Hopkins is Clemson's 23rd first-rounder

Clemson receiver Deandre Hopkins runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Clemson receiver Deandre Hopkins runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

After a long, nervous wait, DeAndre Hopkins is a Texan.

Houston, with the 27th pick of the NFL draft, selected Clemson's star wide receiver, who had been courted, and then passed on, by the St. Louis Rams in favor of West Virginia's Tavon Austin.

It was undoubtedly a nerve-wracking evening for Hopkins, who emerged last season as one of college football's top pass-catchers.

"He's going to be a special player, whoever gets him," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney earlier on Thursday.

In joining the Texans, Hopkins becomes a member of an already-strong team looking to add to its playmaking ability.

At Houston, the former Daniel High star will have a Clemson connection in Jamey Rootes, a former Clemson soccer player and student body president who is now president of the NFL club and responsible for its business operations.

On Thursday, Swinney talked about his hopes for Hopkins realizing his dream as an NFL first-rounder.

"What I said was that it he could be a first-rounder, he should go...if he was second round or below, then I felt he would be going at a discount, because I believed he has first-round talent," Swinney said.

"I'm really pleased with how this process has gone. He's worked out well and he's controlled everything that he could control. He ran what I thought he would run, and his film is tremendous, as we all know. He's had good interviews, and he's smart."

Swinney initially expressed concerns about Hopkins decision to pass up his senior season at Clemson and enter the NFL draft.

"My concern a few month ago was him going the other way and not being a first-round guy, and in my opinion, he's the best receiver in the country," Swinney said. "I was concerned because of so many juniors coming out, and he got a second-round grade. Most of the time, when you get a second-round grade, you may drop a round.

"What he told me was 'coach, I feel like I can improve my stock and have a chance to be a first-rounder."

In the end, Hopkins made it happen.

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Comments » 1

rsb8931#286014 writes:

Any NFL team that doesn't think Nuk Hopkins is as good as they get does not have a grasp on reality. I have been around for 60 years and there have not been too many guys that never drop a pass. Nuk is one of them. Another one of them is Sammy Watkins and thank God, he is still on the Clemson football team. Houston got one of the best pass catchers EVER in Hopkins. Just wait and see what he does in the NFL. He will be a star! That boy can play and Houston will be so happy they got Nuk this time next year they will want Sammy, too.

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