Clemson's Watkins says he's entering NFL draft

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) -- Clemson's record-setting wide receiver Sammy Watkins says he's headed to the NFL.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior confirmed reports that he's leaving school, saying Monday that he is entering May's NFL draft.

"I am very thankful for the past three years at Clemson University that have enabled me to grow academically, athletically, and spiritually," said Watkins in statement released by the university. "After much prayerful consideration, I have decided to take the next step in pursuing my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL."

Watkins has set 23 school records in three seasons. He finished his career as the most outstanding player of the Orange Bowl. He caught 16 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns in No. 12 Clemson's 40-35 win over seventh-ranked Ohio State.

Watkins is considered the top receiver prospect available and a top-15 selection in the NFL draft.

"I would not have this opportunity without the support and encouragement of my family, coaches, teammates, and the best fans in college football," said Watkins.

The Florida native leaves as Clemson's all-time leader with 240 receptions, 3,391 receiving yards, 27 touchdowns and 15 games with 100 or more yards. Watkins reception total and yardage are both Clemson records. His 27 touchdowns tied former teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who went on to be a first-round draft choice of the the Houston Texans.

Receiver Martavis Bryant and defensive back Bashaud Breeland on Monday also announced they intend to enter the NFL draft. They are the second and third Clemson underclassmen, respectively, to turn professional with a year of eligibility remaining.

Bryant, a junior from Calhoun Falls, finished this year with 42 catches for 846 yards and seven touchdowns.

Breeland was a second-team All-ACC selection this year. He finished the season with four interceptions and 13 pass deflections to lead the team in both categories.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)