DALLAS — Dabo Swinney says Dan Radakovich and Clemson’s legal team is handling the next step for the three Tigers that were suspended from playing in Saturday’s Cotton Bowl Classic after testing positive for a banned substance by the NCAA last week.
The NCAA upheld its suspensions for defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence, tight end Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella late Thursday night after the B sample tests came back positive for ostarine, a performance enhancing drug (PED).
The three players were initially suspended last Thursday by the NCAA. Clemson’s next step is to appeal the suspensions. If the appeals do not overturn the suspensions, then all three players will have to sit out the entire 2019 football season due to NCAA rules on positive tests for PEDs.
“Dan Radakovich is kind of running with that with our legal team,” Swinney said during the Cotton Bowl’s coaches press conference at the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas. “They have representation and there is a process in place and obviously the timing of it is not very good for this game, but if we are fortunate enough to win the game, they will do everything they can to see if there is any opportunity beyond this week if that is possible.
“That is really it. There is a longer runway obviously for the fall, because there are other consequences other than losing this opportunity. They will handle that and deal with that and that is where it is.”
As for what Swinney can handle, he says Albert Huggins will get the start in Lawrence’s place at defensive tackle, while Nyles Pinckney and Jordan Williams will also get an opportunity to play more.
“Our guys are ready to go,” Swinney said. “Albert Huggins is a good football player and you just have to treat it like an injury. The next guy has to go play. They are not going to cancel the game and have a pity party and feel sorry for you.”
Huggins played in all 13 games this year, while registering 307 snaps (23.6 snaps per game). The senior tallied 24 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He also has 11 quarterback pressures.
“We are fortunate, very fortunate that we have a guy like Albert as a co-starter for us that can step in,” Swinney said. “I don’t want to lesson what Dexter has done. Dexter is a phenomenal player and we are going to miss him. But this is an opportunity for Albert, Nyles and Jordan.
“Those guys have played all year long and they have a ton of experience. They hurt for their teammate, but you best believe they are excited because this is an opportunity for themselves.”
Pinckney also played in all 13 games and took 285 snaps this year, while recording 24 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Williams played in 10 games due to an early injury. However, the true freshman has been productive in his 132 snaps. He has 12 tackles and three tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 1.5 sacks.
As for Lawrence, Swinney says the All-American is obviously upset and disappointed.
“All three of those guys were disappointed, but not surprised,” Swinney said. “It is not like it was a different test, it was the same.
“The test was the same. I don’t think anyone was really surprised about that. So, we are disappointed, but we prepared for that the whole way, or at least since Monday.”