Dabo Swinney is convinced that DeAndre Hopkins is going to make some NFL team a 'great' wide receiver.
He's keeping his fingers crossed that 'Nuk' doesn't end up going at a bargain basement price.
Swinney said Friday that he advised Hopkins to return to Clemson for his senior season, earn his degree, and work to hit the NFL in 2014 as a sure-bet first-rounder.
Swinney has his doubts about whether that will happen this spring.
"I think it will be tough," said Swinney of Hopkins' first-round chances. "I think he's deserving of that. If I'm going to take a receiver and I need a wide-out, I'm taking Nuk Hopkins. I know there are a lot of good players out there, and I know I'm wearing orange glasses, but I'm taking Nuk because of what I know about him.
"I hope that Nuk can be, or that he can move up somehow. But I just don't know. It's a real inexact thing. Receivers usually slide the other way. That's the mentality: 'we really need this left tackle, we'll get a receiver in the third round.' I've seen it time and time and time again. And I think when it's not clear-cut, that to continue to pursue your education is of paramount importance.
"All of these things are things I shared with Nuk. But at the end of the day, he's a grown man and he has to make the decision that's best for him in his heart. And when they make their decision, you support them."
Swinney said that while another year in college would help Hopkins continue to mature and refine his game, his chief reservations are based strictly on the business side of pro football.
"With the way things are today, I don't think second-round money and third-round money - after you pay your agent and the government and buy a car and new clothes and give mama something - I don't think it's worth it," he said. "The challenge is that if you don't go in at a high level (first round), then you've got to play four or five years to get to a second contract. And the odds are way, way against you - almost like winning the lottery. That's the challenge."
And then there's the matter of missing the senior experience.
"I've said before that unless you're a first-rounder, I just don't think it's worth giving up your senior year of college," Swinney said. "That's just what my life experience tells me. I've been in college football 24 years as a player and a coach, and I think you're better off, more times than not, with another year of college and maturing physically and mentally and in every regard - unless you know you're going to be a first-rounder.
"I've been a senior, and I wouldn't give anything for the experience that I had."
With all that said, Swinney left no doubt that he'll be Hopkins' biggest fan as he moves on to the NFL.
"We're really going to miss Nuk," said Swinney. "And yes, he's a great player on game day. But Nuk is a great competitor. He brought a hard edge every day. He had a quiet confidence to him. Good players come and go, but Nuk Hopkins is a special guy to me, and he's special to the people in our community. He's one of our own, right here.
"He feels like it's time for him to go play on the next level, and each one of these guys have to make their own decisions, and we support them in whatever they ultimately decide.
"I do know this - Nuk is going to be a great pro, whoever gets him. It's not a matter of 'can he go play?' I think he's going to play at a high level. And I think he can play a long time."