When Deandre Hopkins played for Clemson from 2010-’12, he thought every college program was like Clemson’s. Of course, he knew there were probably a few differences, but he did not realize how unique the Clemson Football Program was until he made it to the NFL.
“People do not understand. This is not just a typical program,” Hopkins said to Clemson wide receivers’ coach Tyler Grisham on social media Friday. “You really do not understand that until you are around other players that played at other programs.”
Hopkins learned how special Clemson was after he got drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. The former Clemson receiver believes so many former Tigers have had success in the NFL, especially the wide receivers, because of the Clemson Culture.
“I think that has a lot to do with Clemson University. I have been in the locker room with a lot of other guys who did not have the success that I had in college and they expected to come in and never play special teams,” he said. “My first year in the NFL, I was first round, 27th draft pick, but my mindset was, I was going to do whatever I have to do to help my team win. I think that comes from being at Clemson. That mindset of doing whatever they have to do for their team to succeed is definitely one of the big reasons.”
Hopkins was at the start of Clemson’s current success in football. In 2011, he helped the Tigers win their first ACC Championship in 20 years, while in 2012, he made one of the greatest catches in Clemson history—a sliding catch on fourth-and-16—to beat LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
“I’m around a lot of guys from Clemson that don’t have egos. I am around a lot of different guys from different programs that have not had the success of a Clemson, but those guys’ egos are through the roof,” Hopkins said. “You would think they won a couple of ACC Championships or had 18 touchdowns in one season, but you come into contact with a person from Clemson and our mindset is to keep our head down and grind. I think that has been the success.”
Since Hopkins’ time in Tigertown, Clemson has become one of the elite programs in the country. Hopkins was on the first two teams to win 10-plus games, which has now stretched to nine straight seasons.
The Tigers are the only program in the country that can claim it is currently on a five-year streak in which it has won 12-plus games. The Tigers’ 69 wins during that time is the most of any program in the country.
Clemson has also won five straight ACC Championships, had five appearances in the College Football Playoff, four appearances in the national championship game and has won two national championships.
“You have to have that family component to make guys want to play for each other in the first place to win those championships, to get to that championship. Without that, you are not going to get nothing,” Hopkins said.
“You kind of get a bigger picture of what Clemson has become to be. It has really been like one family.”
And that family starts at the top.
“The things that [Dabo] Swinney is saying is stuff that you are going to remember the rest of your life,” Hopkins said. “He is saying a lot of good stuff and a lot of that stuff is stuff you can take away outside of the game.”
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