Nuk Hopkins on Deshaun Watson and Texans camp: "The sky's the limit"


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Hopkins can't wait to see what Watson can do in training camp
Hopkins can't wait to see what Watson can do in training camp

Nuk Hopkins knows what it takes to make the transition from college to first round NFL draft pick to star in the NFL. He knows the work that it takes, and while he isn’t quite ready to say that former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson will make the same transition, he does say the sky is the limit for the former Tiger.

Hopkins was back in town Saturday as part of his book bag giveaway to area youth, and he took a few minutes to talk about Watson and the opening of the Houston Texans’ training camp next week. Hopkins was a star at Clemson before being drafted in the first round with the 27th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Texans.

As a true freshman in 2010, Hopkins was Clemson's leading receiver with 52 receptions for 637 yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2011, he had 72 receptions for 978 yards and five touchdowns. In his junior season in 2012, Hopkins had one of the best receiving seasons in ACC history, with an ACC-best 1,405 yards on 82 catches and a school-record 18 touchdowns (second in the nation) earning First Team All-Conference honors.

Watson led Clemson to a National Championship last season, putting the finishing touches on a stellar three-year career that saw him become a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist. Watson impressed the Texans enough that they traded up from No. 25 to select Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Texans also surrendered their 2018 first-round pick to the Browns.

Hopkins was happy to see another Tiger on a Texans roster that includes defensive tackles D.J. Reader and Carlos Watkins.

“We went through the same workouts, we had the same struggle here. We stayed in the same dorm room,” Hopkins said of Watson. “You know, to have a Clemson guy there with me is great, man. To see him get drafted in the round he wanted to get drafted at and everybody knows he was supposed to be at, it was awesome.”

Watson will battle listed starter Tom Savage for playing time and the right to throw to Hopkins, who has caught 189 passes with 15 touchdowns the past two seasons. Does Hopkins think he and Watson can make a connection?

“We’ve got to put in work on that field,” he said. “Nothing comes easy, but if we put in work, sky’s the limit.”

Hopkins said that NFL training camps are tough on the mind and the body, but he thinks Watson will be able to handle the rigors.

“It’s the NFL — they give you a playbook and they expect you to come out and know the plays,” Hopkins said. “He knows that, he’s doing a great job right now. He’s the type of kid, you really don’t have to tell him much, he gets it.”

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