As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
This season was supposed to all about a Clemson receiver differentiating himself from the rest of the nation’s wideouts. But who knew that receiver would be Hopkins, rather than his highly-touted counterpart, Sammy Watkins? From game one though, Hopkins showed himself up to the task of being the Tigers’ top option. First against Auburn, 13 catches and one touchdown, then six catches for three touchdowns versus Ball State — whether Watkins was in the lineup or not, DeAndre Hopkins was a force from game-to-game, scoring at least one touchdown in all but one contest. The junior set Clemson records for touchdown catches in a season (18, in just 13 games) and receiving yards in a season (1,405), while turning himself into one of the nation’s most talked-about offense weapons and now a potential first-round NFL Draft pick. Yes, unfortunately, ‘Nuk will forgo his senior season and a sure-fire shot at a National Championship and potential Heisman Trophy buzz, in exchange for the pros. Where he’s selected is still up in the air, but wherever it may be, they’re inheriting a smart receiver who still has plenty more growth ahead of him.