Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said they were caught off guard by running back Demarkcus Bowman’s decision to transfer this past week.
“Oh yeah! I did not expect that,” Swinney said following No. 1 Clemson’s 41-23 victory over Virginia Saturday night at Death Valley. “It is 2020. There are a lot of things that catch you off guard in 2020.”
Bowman put his name into the transfer portal this past Thursday, and less than 48 hours later he committed to Florida head coach Dan Mullen. He announced on Saturday he was transferring to the University of Florida, which is close to his hometown of Lakeland, Fla.
“It caught me by surprise. We did not see it coming,” Elliott said about Bowman leaving Clemson.
Bowman told The Clemson Insider on Thursday the recent death of his grandfather is why he decided to leave the Clemson football program.
“The closest family I had up here was my grandfather,” Bowman told TCI. “He was the only reason I came to Clemson. I came so my grandfather could come and watch me play, but he passed away as the season started.”
Soon after his grandfather died, Bowman began to feel uncomfortable at Clemson and it became obvious to him he wanted to be closer to home.
“I love Clemson. It is a really great program with absolutely great coaching,” he said. “Stuff just hit me hard and I would just rather go to school and get my degree somewhere closer to home. There was not anything I disliked or nothing.”
The former 5-star running back from Lakeland, Fla., played briefly in the top-ranked Tigers’ two games this season. Bowman had nine carries for 32 yards. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry, and he did not score a touchdown.
“Yeah, I tried to talk him out of it, but that is just what he wanted to do,” Swinney said. “It is really easy to do that and it is going to get easier with the transfer portal and those types of things. It will get easier and easier for guys to pack up and go. It is the world we are living in.
“He is a great kid and, again, there are certainly no hard feelings or anything like that, but at the end of the day, you have to just keep moving forward.”
Bowman was a unanimous five-star prospect coming out of Lakeland High School, where he rushed for 5,081 yards in three years, including an 11.4-yards per-carry average and 71 touchdowns during his career.
Last year, he was a first-team postseason All-American by Sports Illustrated and USA Today after he averaged 142.7 yards a game, including nine games of at least 100 yards, while scoring 24 touchdowns and helping his team to a 12-1 record.
“I am super disappointed. What a great young man. I am very, very disappointed,” Swinney said. “He is a good kid. But, you know, he said he wanted to be closer to home. So, we just wish him well.
“We certainly did not have him long. Just a couple of months. But we certainly appreciate the opportunity we had to work with him a little bit. Hopefully, he will get in a good situation and become the player I know he can be.”
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