Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and three of his teammates will declare for the NFL draft following the season, according to coach Dabo Swinney.
Running back Wayne Gallman and receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott will also leave school for the NFL. Swinney said the four juniors will take part in Clemson’s Senior Day on Saturday when the Tigers host Pittsburgh.
“Those guys indicated to me back in the summer that this was going to be it for them,” Swinney said at a press conference on Tuesday. “They were going to graduate in December and their plan was to be a senior. They’re more seniors than some of the seniors.”
Watson, who finished third in last season’s Heisman Trophy balloting, is expected to be one of the top quarterbacks chosen in the 2017 NFL draft. He is currently rated the second-best quarterback prospect (and 10th overall player) by NFLDraftScout.com behind North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky.
Watson became the first player in FBS history to throw for more than 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a season last year. This season, he has thrown for 2,497 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 370 yards and two scores.
Williams also is expected to be selected in the first round. He is currently ranked as the second-best receiver (and 19th best prospect) behind USC star JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Williams has 52 catches for 754 yards and five touchdowns. He posted a 1,000-yard campaign in 2014 before missing all of last season with a serious neck injury.
Gallman is forecasted as either a second- or third-round selection. He has 634 yards and eight touchdowns this season after setting the school record with 1,527 yards last season.
Scott combined for 169 receptions over his first two seasons but has just 38 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. He projects as a third-round pick.
Swinney said all four players will get to make a grand entrance into Death Valley by running down the hill into Memorial Stadium, a practice typically reserved for seniors.
“All those guys are planning to move on,” Swinney said. “Definitely want to honor them while we have the opportunity. They’ve earned it.”
The Tigers are 9-0 overall, and 6-0 in ACC play entering the contest against the Panthers.