Clemson players weigh their NFL futures
Following the ACC Championship Game Clemson players enjoyed a week off to heal and rest up for their upcoming College Football Playoff Semifinal game with Alabama on New Year’s Eve.
For some players with NFL aspirations it meant time to ponder their future and what the next year could hold for them.
During Wednesday’s media availability in advance of the Sugar Bowl matchup with the Crimson Tide, redshirt-junior Taylor Hearn announced he made his decision.
The offensive guard decided he is headed to pursue a career in the NFL following the season.
Several Tigers will have to decide between returning for a senior season or leaving early to go pro, including Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Deon Cain, Mitch Hyatt, Hunter Renfrow, Austin Bryant, Van Smith and Kendall Joseph.
While some players, like Hearn, made it very clear what their future entails others claimed to still be on the fence.
Hearn graduates on Thursday morning in Littlejohn Coliseum and has no regrets as he nears the end of his Clemson career. The redshirt junior is proud of winning multiple championships in his time at Clemson but is most proud of graduating.
The decision was not an easy one for Hearn, who was a third-team All-ACC selection this season, but he believes it is the right one.
“Talking to Coach (Robbie) Caldwell and Coach (Dabo) Swinney, we think I could only benefit from it,” he said. “I’m ready for the next opportunity and to open a new door.”
Another Clemson player made it clear what his next step was. Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow left no doubt about his future.
“I plan to come back for my senior year because I have too much hunting, fishing and golf to play to go pro right now” said the junior said.
For a few Tigers, the decision has not yet been made and their only focus is on the matchup ahead with the Crimson Tide.
Wilkins is still not sure what his future holds and is taking things one step at a time.
“I’m still wide open and I don’t know what I’m going to do as far as next year,” said Wilkins. “I’m focused on the College Football Playoff and trying to make the most of my experience at Clemson.”
Standout offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt is also on the fence, deciding whether to stay or go. He wants to speak with a few more people before he makes his decision.
Even Hyatt’s roommate, Hearn, doesn’t know what Hyatt is going to do next year even though the two have spoken on the topic several times.
Wide receiver Deon Cain said he is “mostly trying to focus in on the season” but admitted to talking the subject over with his family and agreed that a win over Alabama could theoretically improve his draft stock.
Ferrell is focused on living in the moment right now and says he is 100-percent committed to Clemson. He also claimed to have not submitted for his draft grades.
However, Ray-Ray McCloud confirmed that Associate Athletic Director for Football Administration Woody McCorvey submitted his draft grade paperwork, which he also does for other draft eligible players.
Austin Bryant, Van Smith, and Kendall Joseph did not meet with the media on Wednesday and have not discussed their thoughts on the future.