Hopkins: This is what I came here for

by - Senior Writer -
Hopkins has 6 receptions for 69 yards with one touchdown so far this season.

CLEMSON – True freshman wide receiver DeAndre “Nuke” Hopkins took the majority of the first team snaps during Tuesday’s practice and the Daniel High product says this was why he came to Clemson.

The Tigers are preparing for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game at North Carolina in a key ACC matchup, and Hopkins will more than likely get his first career start against the Tar Heels.

“I saw way more reps,” Hopkins said following the practice. “I was third team, and now I’m first team, so I had way more reps. It feels great, but this is what I came here for. To come in and compete for a job. That is what I practice for every day – to step up.

“I knew I had to come in here and learn the playbook. It’s a lot different than what I had in high school. But I knew I had the chance to come in here and work hard every day in practice and show the coaches that I can work my way up. I was confident, but I wanted to be well-adjusted and have everything down like the back of my hand.”

Hopkins said he knew he had the talent to play at the collegiate level, but wants to prove to the coaches and the fans that he has the mental capacity to play there as well.

“I still have some stuff I need to work on,” he said. “Right now, I feel pretty good with the playbook. Talent will show itself. But I have to be smart as well. It’s not just about the talent – you have to put both of them together. I have to prepare well and study the playbook and study the schemes that we are going to run against North Carolina. That is all I can ask for.”

The nephew of former Tiger wide receiver Terry Smith had three catches for 39 yards against Miami last week, and quarterback Kyle Parker seemed to have no hesitation in trusting the freshman. Hopkins says he hopes to earn even more of Parker’s trust as the season progresses.

“Kyle is a smart QB, and if he sees guys making plays he will get them the ball,” he said. “He believed in me. I showed what I can do and he went to me again. It’s great to have a guy like Kyle who can get you the ball and move around in the pocket. I just have to come out when called on and make plays.”

The Hurricanes played a press coverage on the Clemson receivers last Saturday, and Hopkins was one of the few wideouts that showed an ability to gain separation from defenders. He said gaining that separation is both technique and desire.

“It’s just beating them off the line,” he said. “Once you do that, the rest speaks for itself. You have to beat them off the line and get their hips turned.”

The one downside to Hopkins’ play against Miami was a fumble following a reception on a slant route, and he said that mistake is something he has to learn from.

“It was a lesson learned,” Hopkins said. “You won’t see that happen too many more times in my career. I know what I did wrong, and I didn’t tuck it in. I was thinking about the touchdown because I thought I had him beat.”

Following the fumble, Hopkins was back out on the field for the Tigers’ next series, and he said that was a confidence booster.

“That told me that they [the coaches] believe in me,” he said. “I know to not go and make that rookie mistake again. I have confidence in myself that I will go and make that play when called on again.”

Wide receivers coach Jeff Scott said on Monday that Hopkins had six decleaters – blocks where a defender is knocked off of his feet – against Miami, and the former Daniel safety said he likes the physical side of the game.

“I am kind of physical out there, I am not going to let too many guys push me around,” he said. “I played defense at Daniel and I’m used to hitting guys and not getting hit. We have running backs that can get downfield and it’s all about secondary blocking. We have guys that can get out in the open field and we have to be able to help them.”

Wide Receiver Two-Deep

WR	6	DEANDRE HOPKINS	        6-1	195	Fr.
        21	Xavier Dye		6-5	210	Sr.
	85	Brandon Clear		6-5	210	*Jr.

WR	18 	JARON BROWN		6-2	200	*So.
	87	Terrance Ashe		6-2	200	*Gr.

WR	26 	MARQUAN JONES		6-0	195	Jr.
	7	Bryce McNeal		6-1	180	*Fr.

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