Clemson defensive stars leaving for NFL draft, including Dexter Lawrence

‘This team was special from Day One,’ Dabo says

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney reacts after the Tigers defeated Alabama for the national championship.
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Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney reacts after the Tigers defeated Alabama for the national championship.

Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen and linebacker Tre Lamar are going out on top, and the Tigers will lose their anchor in the middle, as expected, in Dexter Lawrence.

The three defensive stars announced Wednesday afternoon that they are turning pro after their junior seasons and entering the NFL draft.

Lawrence was the No. 2 overall recruit when he came to Clemson before the 2016 season. He was a dominant player from the start and a key part of the 2016 national title run. He missed both playoff games this season because of a positive test for the performance-enhancing drug ostarine.

“Clemson has been a true blessing to me these past three years,” Lawrence said in his announcement tweet. “I have accomplished the three things I wanted to do most: To grow as a man, to grow spiritually, and to become a better football player. I’m also thankful for all the adversities and storms I went through here at Clemson. It has helped make me who I am today.”

Mullen was named the Defensive MVP of the national title game after he recorded an interception and a sack in Clemson’s 44-16 victory against Alabama. He finished his junior season with 36 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception. He also had three pass breakups and forced a fumble.

“I want to thank the Clemson family for the experience I’ve gained and the opportunity to play on this team for the past three years. This school and program have helped me become a better person on and off the field,” Mullen said as part of a statement. “It was a tough decision, but I left it in God’s hands. I am ready to move on to the next chapter in life. I have decided to forgo my senior year and declare for the NFL draft.”

Lamar finished third on Clemson’s team in tackles with 80, and he had 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception and five quarterback hurries. Lamar recorded six tackles in the national title game.

“I cannot truly express my thanks and my gratitude for the many blessing I’ve had in my time as a student-athlete at Clemson... To the Clemson family, I will never forget Death Valley and the energy you brought to it every week,” Lamar said. “After much consideration, I have elected to forgo my senior season and enter the 2019 NFL draft.”

Defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell announced his decision to turn pro on Thursday.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is Monday, Jan. 14.

Offensively, Clemson is slated to lose left tackle Mitch Hyatt, center Justin Falcinelli, tight end Milan Richard and receiver Hunter Renfrow, all seniors.

Fellow offensive linemen John Simpson, Tremayne Anchrum and Gage Cervenka are all juniors but are expected to return to school.

Junior H-back/tight end Garrett Williams has indicated that he could enter the military rather than return to play for the Tigers in 2019.

Clemson parade

What: Clemson players, coaches, administrators, the band, cheerleaders, mascots, rally cats and more will participate in a national championship parade Saturday morning in Clemson

Parade details: The parade will begin at 9 a.m. and will start downtown at the intersection of College Avenue and Keith Street. It will proceed to Highway 93 and will turn left onto Highway 93 in front of Bowman Field. The route will then take a right onto Calhoun Drive and then a right onto Fort Hill Street, where it will end at the east side of Memorial Stadium.

Celebration: A stadium celebration follows at Death Valley. Gates for the stadium celebration will open at 7 a.m. The parade will be shown on the video board before the stadium celebration begins at 10:30 a.m. The celebration will conclude prior to Clemson’s home basketball game against No. 4 Virginia at noon.