Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson (2004-06) was honored as the ACC's top receiver of the era, and was followed on the list by Florida State's Peter Warrick (1995-99) and Clemson's Watkins (2011-13).
Hopkins (2010-12) came in sixth, behind Torry Holt (1995-98) and Jerricho Cotchery (2000-03) of N.C. State. Filling out the top 10 are UNC's Hakeem Nicks (2006-06), Duke Conner Vernon (2009-12), Virginia's Billy McMullen (1997-2000), and FSU's Marvin Minnis (1997-2000).
Clemson's Aaron Kelly (2005-08) was 15th on the list, with Rod Gardner (1997-2000) 18th and Derrick Hamilton (2001-03) 22nd.
Following is what Athlon had to say about each of the five Tigers:
Stats: 240 rec., 3,391 yards, 27 TDs, 339 rush, TD, 1,399 ret. yards, TD
Watkins did it all at Clemson. A freakish athlete with the ability to score on any play from anywhere on the field, Watkins helped lead Clemson to a 32-8 record during his three seasons. He finished No. 2 all-time in ACC history with 240 receptions, No. 3 all-time with 3,391 yards receiving and tied for eighth all-time with 27 receiving touchdowns. And he did all of this in just three seasons, while bringing an ACC title back to Clemson for the first time in decades. His 5,129 all-purpose yards are ninth all-time in league history. His 101 receptions in 2013 would have been a single-season ACC record if not for Duke’s Jamison Crowder and his 108 catches this fall. His 1,464 yards in his final season is second all-time to Torry Holt (1,604) and his 82 catches and 12 TDs in 2011 were both ACC records for freshmen.
Stats: 206 rec., 3,020 yds, 27 TDs
His teammate Watkins garnered all of the attention but Hopkins was virtually unstoppable at Clemson as well. He finished tied with Watkins (and the great Herman Moore) for eighth all-time in ACC history with 27 touchdown catches, including a magical 2012 season that featured the ACC’s single-season record of 18 and then-No. 2 yardage total of 1,405 yards. Hopkins, in just three seasons, is eighth all-time with 206 catches and seventh all-time with 3,020 yards. He posted 12 100-yard games in his career and was a first-round pick of the Houston Texans.
Stats: 232 rec., 2,733 yds, 20 TDs, 417 ret. yds
Before Watkins passed him this year, Kelly was No. 2 all-time in ACC history with 232 receptions. He is top 20 in yards and touchdowns and his 88 catches in 2007 are fourth-best in ACC history.
Stats: 159 rec., 2,404 yards, 12 TDs
Led the ACC in receptions (80) in 1999 and was a first-round pick in the 2001 NFL Draft.
Stats: 163 rec., 2,218 yds, 15 TDs, 340 rush, 2 TDs, 2,187 ret. yds, 2 Tds
Fourth in ACC history among wide receivers with 4,745 all-purpose yards.