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Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins heading to the NFL

Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins heading to the NFL

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson record-setting receiver DeAndre Hopkins is heading to the NFL and skipping his final season of college.

Hopkins said on Twitter on Thursday that while he enjoyed his time with the Tigers, he is ready for the next level. Clemson athletics spokesman Tim Bourret confirmed that Hopkins is making himself eligible for the NFL draft in April.

``It is tough to leave because this is my home, this is the place I wanted to play since I came out of the womb,'' Hopkins said in statement from the school. ``But, I feel it is best for me and my family to take my talents to NFL at this time.''

Hopkins had a been a solid performer his first two seasons, but broke out in a big way this past fall with a school record 1,405 yards receiving on 82 catches. His 18 touchdowns were an Atlantic Coast Conference record.

He closed his college career in impressive fashion with 13 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a Chick-Fil-A Bowl victory over LSU. Hopkins made a sliding, 26-yard catch on fourth-and-16 to keep the Tigers game-winning drive alive in the 25-24 win.

Hopkins play this season has him going in the late first-round in several NFL mock drafts, projections apparently too good for him to pass up.

``It's been one hell of a ride tiger nation but I'm takin my talents to the next level (tag) nfl,'' Hopkins tweeted.

Hopkins spoke with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney several times before making his decision.

``I fully support him,'' Swinney said.

The coach said Hopkins would make an exceptional NFL player.

``He has the best hands and ability to catch the ball in traffic I have seen in a long time,'' Swinney said.

Hopkins established Clemson career records with 27 touchdown receptions, 12 100-yard receiving games and 3,020 total reception yards. He is second in total receptions with 206 for his 39 career games. The 191-yard game in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was his sixth 100-yard game of the year, tying the Clemson single season mark. He caught at least one pass in each of his last 36 games to tie Jerry Butler's (1975-78) record.

Hopkins also tied the Clemson mark for touchdown receptions in a game with three on two occasions this year, once against Ball State and once at Duke. Twice he scored three touchdowns in under nine minutes.

On Wednesday, ACC player of the year Tajh Boyd chose to return to Clemson instead of jumping to the NFL. The Tigers still feature former All-American wideout Sammy Watkins, who'll be a junior next fall.

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Celtics' Al Horford reportedly will decline option, become unrestricted free agent

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Celtics' Al Horford reportedly will decline option, become unrestricted free agent

Boston big man Al Horford is reportedly not picking up his $30.1 million option with the Celtics for the 2019-20 season, qualifying him as an unrestricted free agent according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Horford is reportedly interested in working out a long-term deal with the Celtics with negotiations beginning after the start of free agency June 30.

The five-time All-Star could help free up some of the Celtics' cap space with a deal under his $30.1 million option.

Horford joined the Celtics in the 2016 offseason, leaving the Atlanta Hawks. At the time, the Wizards had been a contender to sign him before he ultimately chose Boston. 

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Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

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USA Today Sports

Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

Following a growing trend, the Philadelphia Eagles cut fan access at training camp way back. Way, way back actually. 

The Eagles will open just one training camp practice to the public, and what's more, the team will charge fans to watch. To watch the Eagles lone public training camp session will cost $10, but it's important to note that the proceeds will go the Eagles Autism Challenge, per an ESPN report.

Raising money for charity is admirable. That's not a debate. 

Still, Philadelphia might be on the forefront of an NFL wide trend that significantly limits fan access to teams during training camp. Last year, the Eagles held two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field that fans could attend. This year, it's just one, and by putting it at their home stadium changes the atmosphere too. For some fans, it might be great to get to see the stadium without paying game day prices, but for others, the up-close access of training camp will be greatly missed. 

The Redskins were widely mocked nearly 20 years ago when they moved training camp sessions to their practice facility in Ashburn and charged to watch the practices. The outcry was deserved, not to mention that by charging to watch practice allowed other team's scouts to attend. The NFL changed a rule in 2017 that opposing scouts are not allowed to watch a team's practice regardless of cost. 

Other teams around the league are slowly pulling away from the traditional training camp experience of going away for a few weeks of practice. In the NFC East, the Eagles and Giants hold their camps at their facilities while the Redskins and Cowboys travel. Dallas does their training camp in Oxnard, California, while the 'Skins go to Richmond. 

Washington's deal with the city of Richmond expires after training camp in 2020. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Redskins training camp practices after that, especially as the team wants a new stadium. Any new stadium would probably include facilities to hold training camp practices, similar to the Giants in New Jersey. Additionally, the promise of training camp practices could be part of the negotiations for a new stadium. 

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