Swinney a little down when he learned Watson-Hopkins combo was broken up

Swinney a little down when he learned Watson-Hopkins combo was broken up

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Swinney a little down when he learned Watson-Hopkins combo was broken up

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Dabo Swinney is a little bummed not to see Deshaun Watson throw the football to Deandre Hopkins anymore. The Clemson coach said as much Thursday when he was on ESPN’s “First Take.”

If you recall, Hopkins was traded last month to Arizona by the Houston Texans.

“Just like everyone else, that is a ‘Wow!’ deal when it comes across the ticker,” Swinney said. “I had actually spent a day with Deandre, literally, like a week before it happened. We had a big reunion at Clemson and Deandre was here and had an awesome time visiting with him.

“I don’t know if he knew anything at the time. He did not say anything to me. But, like a week later, is when it all happened. But I was surprised like everyone else. He is as good as it gets.”

The Watson-to-Hopkins connection was becoming one of the NFL’s best. With Watson as the full-time starter the last two years, the two former Tigers connected for 2,737 yards and 18 touchdowns, while leading the Texans to back-to-back AFC South Championships and a playoff win this past season.

Both Hopkins and Watson earned Pro Bowl spots in each of the last two years, and Hopkins has been an All-Pro Selection in each of the last three seasons. Like everyone at Houston and back at Clemson, Swinney was surprised to see that Texans’ head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien traded Hopkins away.

“There are always two sides to those things. The business side and the reasons people make decisions, who really knows,” Swinney said. “But at the end of the day, it was awesome to watch Deandre and Deshaun play together these past three years and, unfortunately, it will not be the case moving forward, but both of those guys are going to continue to have amazing careers.”

In his seven years at Houston, Hopkins became one of the NFL’s best receivers. Some will argue he is the best. He caught 632 passes at Houston for 8,602 yards and 54 touchdowns. Four times he has went over 1,100 receiving yards, including each of the last three years.

He has been named an All-Pro four times and been named to the Pro Bowl four times.

“I am happy for Deandre. I did communicate with him after the fact. He is excited about this new opportunity and is going to continue to be the same guy he has been his entire life, all the way back to Central, South Carolina to Daniel High School to Clemson, the Texans to now the Cardinals,” Swinney said. “He is going to be an unbelievable player and a difference maker on game day every single time that the lights are on.”

In his three years at Clemson, Hopkins caught 206 passes for 3,020 yards and 27 touchdowns. His 27 career touchdowns set a Clemson record, which Sammy Watkins and Tee Higgins have since tied it. In his final season at Clemson in 2012, Hopkins caught 18 touchdowns, still a single season record for a Clemson pass catcher.

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