Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson will declare for the NFL Draft

- Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, who is a finalist for the Lombardi Award given out Wednesday night in Houston, told FOX 26 Sports he will bypass his final year of eligibility and turn pro.

“I’m going to declare for the draft,” Lawson said. “It was a tough decision.

“I sat down with my family, sat down with the support staff at Clemson. I enjoyed being at Clemson, but it’s time. I’m ready for the next level.”

“Lawson, who leads the nation in tackles for loss with 22, along with 9.5 quarterback sacks, said he informed the Clemson coaching staff of his decision.

“I had planned on what I wanted to do,” Lawson said. “That was my goal throughout the season, is to possibly get drafted. I worked hard for (this). I feel like it paid off.

“I will always miss Clemson, thank them for everything they’ve done for me. I really enjoyed it.”

He will enjoy things a lot of more if he can help Clemson win a national championship.

First things first, they get Oklahoma in the National Semifinals in the Orange Bowl.

“We’ve got a great chance of winning,” Lawson said. We know it’s going to be a great matchup. We got to take it one game at a time, like we did all year.

“It would mean a lot to the program. We haven’t won a national championship since 1981. That’s my goal, before I leave Clemson, win a national championship. I feel like this is going to be the year for us.”

Lawson arrived in Houston on Tuesday along with the other finalists for the Lombardi Award: Joey Bosa from Ohio State, Myles Garrett from Texas A&M and Carl Nassib from Penn State.

All of the finalists this year are defensive ends.

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