Clemson’s Bowers to enter draft
CLEMSON, S.C. ó Coach Dabo Swinney has been fortunate with some of his star juniors returning for their final season at Clemson.
Tigers defensive end DaíQuan Bowers wonít be one of them.
Clemsonís junior All-American said Wednesday he was giving up his senior season to enter the NFL, where heís widely project as top five selection in Aprilís draft.
ěI feel I am ready to go to the next level and I look forward to working hard in preparation for the draft,î he said.
Several highly regarded juniors including tailback C.J. Spiller last season and safety DeAndre McDaniel this fall returned to Clemson for their senior campaigns. Bowers, however, is poised to be Clemsonís highest draft pick ever.
The Nagurski and Ted Hendricks award winner led the country with 151/2 sacks.
He could go as high as No. 2 in Aprilís NFL draft, which would eclipse the late Gaines Adams, who was taken with the No. 4 selection by Tampa Bay in 2007, and halfback Banks McFadden, chosen by footballís Brooklyn Dodgers in 1940.
Bowers, of Bamberg, S.C., came to Clemson in 2008 as the countryís No. 1 college prospect. However, he struggled through parts of his first two seasons adjusting to the college game.
Yet, Bowers cites losing his father, Dennis, and his mentor, Gaines, the former Clemson defensive end, in 2010 as inspiration for his breakout season.
Dennis died in August after collapsing at a gospel concert. Adams, the Chicago Bears defensive lineman, died in January. Bowers had talked with both about stepping up his game his junior season.
ěYou hear people talk about the Clemson family, and when my father passed this past summer, I saw that first hand,î Bowers said. ěThere is a great support system at Clemson. The coaches and players were all there for me and I will never forget that.î
Things clicked on the field for the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Bowers. Besides his sack total, Bowers was second in the country with 26 tackles for loss. His sacks surpassed Adamsí school record for defensive linemen.
Bowers was second on the team this fall with 74 tackles and led the Tigers with 20 quarterback pressures, most of the time dealing with two or three offensive players trying to slow his pursuit.
He was named the Atlantic Coast Conferenceís defensive player of the year.
Swinney said he talked with Bowers at length about the decision. ěWe certainly understand the decision,î Swinney said. ěMost see him as a top five selection in the NFL draft.î
And thatís something not even the persuasive Swinney could turn around.
The Associated Press