Clemson's stellar defense lost another stalwart Thursday when redshirt junior Clelin Ferrell announced that he is leaving the Tigers for the NFL.

The All-America defensive end made the announcement on his Twitter account. He is viewed as a certain first-round NFL draft pick, possibly in the top 10 selections.

After thanking the Clemson program, its fans and his family, Ferrell wrote, "I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the NFL Draft this year and will continue to chase my dream of being the best me I can be. #DreamWithMeBaby #MissileOut"

The Clemson football Twitter account subsequently tweeted at Ferrell, "You'll always have a home in Death Valley, No. 99."

Ferrell's announcement comes a day after three Clemson true juniors, defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, cornerback Trayvon Mullen and linebacker Tre Lamar, all declared for the NFL draft.

With defensive end Austin Bryant and All-America defensive tackle Christian Wilkins also turning pro, the Tigers will need to replace their entire defensive line.

On Monday, the defense starred in second-ranked Clemson's 44-16 victory over top-ranked Alabama in the national championship game at Santa Clara, Calif. The Tigers became the first FBS team in the modern era to produce a 15-0 season.

Ferrell, who is 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, finished with a team-best 11 1/2 sacks this year. In the title game, he notched four tackles, including 1 1/2 tackles for loss.

--Field Level Media

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