DALLAS — A week that second-ranked Clemson has been looking forward to for almost a month now has turned into a nightmare for Tigers’ freshman tight end Braden Galloway, reserve offensive lineman Zach Giella and starting defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence.
As Clemson faces Notre Dame this Saturday in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium with the winner advancing to the national championship game, the Tigers could very likely be without those three players.
At Monday’s arrival press conference, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced a very small trace of Ostarine, a steroid that is commonly found in everyday products, was discovered in all three of the players’ systems.
Clemson has made it extremely clear how confident the team is that this drug was not taken intentionally. The Tigers are now waiting for the results of the B samples to come back, which should occur by Thursday. Those results will determine whether or not the players are eligible to play in Saturday’s game.
During media availability Wednesday morning, it was apparent how hurt defensive end Clelin Ferrell feels for his teammate and close friend, Lawrence.
“Just control what you can control,” Ferrell said when asked what he told Lawrence this week to help him stay focused. “It’s out of our hands. We’re treating it like an injury. It sucks for us, but we know what type of people we have on this team with Dex, Braden and Zach. It’s really me more so hurting for them.
“It’s really hard for me to talk about it because I know the type of people that they are. We have their back one hundred percent. It’s not their fault at all. Hopefully that situation can get figured out. It’s out of our control. We have to move on as a team.”
Moving on is the only thing Clemson can do. Although it has not been determined as to whether or not the All-American defensive tackle will be allowed to play yet, Lawrence has not been taking reps at practice this week.
“Our success as a defensive line is not dependent on one player, whether it’s me, Dex, Christian (Wilkins), Austin (Bryant.),” Ferrell said. “Obviously, there’s a reason as to why we are the starters but to the standard that we play to, we don’t really consider it to be so called, ‘Next man up.’
“It’s more so just put another guy in there. You know if you’re on the field, then we trust you. We feel like you play to our standard and we feel that you can go out there and perform regardless of the fact. It’s a group effort. It’s not an individual matchup.”
Despite the fact Lawrence may not be able to participate in the biggest game of the season for Clemson, Ferrell, along with others, are helping him to keep his spirits up.
“Dex in general is a very positive person,” Ferrell said. “Obviously, this is tough for him but we’re a family first, this is something that kind of harms us, but we know how to respond to things like this regardless. We know we have his back so he’ll be fine.”