Phillip Merling Headed To NFL

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CLEMSON - Clemson junior defensive end Phillip Merling has decided to enter the National Football League draft. The native of St. Matthews, SC led Clemson in tackles for loss with 17 and quarterback sacks with seven in 2007, helping the Tigers to a top 10 national ranking in scoring defense and total defense.

Merling had 78 tackles this season to rank fourth on the team, first among defensive linemen. He was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week three times, more than any other ACC player. It marked the first time since 2001 that a Clemson player was named ACC Player of the Week three times.

"We wish Phillip the best in his pursuit of a National Football League career," said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden. "He has the ability to be successful in his professional career. I advised him to remain for his senior year, but he felt this was the best decision for his future. I will help him any way I can as he prepares for the draft."

Merling joins Clemson running back James Davis as Clemson juniors who will enter the NFL draft. It marks the fourth time in history that two Clemson juniors have turned professional in the same year. The other seasons were 1990, 1998, and 2003.

Davis and Merling are the 16th and 17th juniors to turn professional from Clemson. Thirteen of the previous 15 have been drafted and 11 of the 15 have gone on to play in an NFL game.

Clemson Players Who have Turned Professional Prior to Senior Year  
Year      Player,       Pos.      Draft Result  
1989 Terry Allen,        RB      9th round, Minnesota Vikings  
1990 Dexter Davis,       CB      4th round, Arizona Cardinals  
     Chris Gardocki,      P      3rd round, Chicago Bears  
1991 Chester McGlockton, DT      1st round, Oakland Raiders  
1992 Ronald Williams,    RB      Not drafted, played in Canada  
1996 Trevor Pryce,       DT      1st round, Denver Broncos  
1997 Anthony Simmons,    LB      1st round, Seattle Seahawks  
1998 Rahim Abdullah,    OLB      2nd round, Cleveland Browns  
     Corey Hulsey,       OT      Not drafted, free agent - Buffalo  
2000 Keith Adams,        LB      7th round, Tennessee Titans  
2003 Derrick Hamilton,   WR      3rd round, San Francisco 49ers  
     Donnell Washington, DT      3rd round, Green Bay Packers  
2004 Justin Miller,      CB      2nd round, New York Jets  
2006 C.J. Gaddis,        CB      5th round, Philadelphia Eagles  
2007 James Davis,        RB      ? 
     Phillip Merling,    DE      ? 

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