- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers is giving up his final season to enter the NFL draft.

Bowers lead the nation this year with 15 1/2 sacks and was second with 26 tackles for loss. He announced his intentions Wednesday.

Bowers thanked his coaches and teammates and says he is ready to go to the next level.

It was a difficult offseason for Bowers, who lost his father, Dennis, in August during Clemson’s summer camp. In January, Bowers‘ mentor, former Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams, died suddenly.

Bowers used the deaths as inspiration this season. His sack total broke Adams mark for Tigers defensive linemen.

Bowers won the Nagurski Award as the top defensive player and the Ted Hendricks Award as the country’s top defensive end.