During his weekly press conference Tuesday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney provided an update on the status of star quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the timetable for his return to the field as he goes through the ACC’s COVID-19 protocols.
Lawrence, who is still in quarantine right now after testing positive for the coronavirus last week, is feeling well and staying engaged with the team even though he will not be able to play in the top-ranked Tigers’ top-five matchup against No. 4 Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday night.
“He’s doing great. He really is,” Swinney said. “He’s in the meetings, he’s Zooming in and all that stuff. So, he’s doing well, he’s just anxious to get out (of the protocols). I think he gets back with us Thursday or Friday, so he’ll be with us. He’ll travel with us, he just can’t play because of the cardiac back-to-play protocol that’s in place. So, just no way to get through that in time for him to play in the game. So, should be back in practice after the game and then be ready to go against Florida State (on Nov. 21).”
Per ACC medical advisory group protocols, players who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the onset of symptoms.
Although Lawrence will be out of the conference’s isolation protocols prior to Saturday’s game, he also has to pass a series of cardiac exams as part of the return-to-play protocols, which is why he won’t be able to suit up against the Fighting Irish.
“It’s 10 days, first of all, from when he had his symptoms,” Swinney said. “Early, I wasn’t sure of the exact timeline as far as what day it was going to be. So, it’s 10 days, and then there’s a protocol in place, the cardiac piece, and you can’t do that all in a day, you can’t do it all in a few hours. Even if you feel great and near perfect like he feels, it doesn’t matter.
“Again, if he was going to do my job, he’d be right back at work. But I’m not running routes and dodging 6-foot-5, 300-pounders and things like that. But when you’re going back to play football, that’s why they put that in place. So, it will take him a few days to get through that. Again, we anticipate once we get back from Notre Dame, he’ll be back at practice. So, that’s really it – just the cardiac protocol. The 10 days is the initial part.”
Clemson announced last Thursday that Lawrence had tested positive, and Swinney said he found out the next day (Friday) that Lawrence would not be available to play against Notre Dame due to the cardiac exams.
“They told me on I guess Friday that he would definitely be out for the Notre Dame game,” Swinney said. “They didn’t think that he would be able to get the cardiac part. So, that’s really it.”
Also, Clemson has been very deliberate on how it has handled releasing information on COVID-19. The athletic department has been upfront on the number of positive cases it has had since testing began in June. However, the school has never once said which student-athletes, coaches or administrators have tested positive for the virus.
That changed last Thursday when Clemson did put out a release, with Trevor Lawrence’s permission, that the junior quarterback tested positive for the coronavirus. Of course, the school released the news after it had already been confirmed by several media outlets, including TCI.
On Tuesday, Swinney was asked if Clemson planned to release Lawrence’s positive result if it had not been leaked to the media prior to, and just have his name listed as unavailable as it has done prior to each game this year.
“We certainly know that was going to be something that was going to get out,” Swinney said. “There are just too many people that chitchat, talk, tell your parents or whatever it is. I definitely was not going to wait until Saturday morning. We put something out, I guess that night, and moved on.”
Lawrence – along with linebacker James Skalski, who will miss Saturday’s game as well due to a groin injury – will travel with the team to Notre Dame and serve as coaches on the sideline, and Swinney expects Lawrence’s presence to benefit freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei when he makes his second career start and first career road start against the Irish.
“He’s an incredibly knowledgeable guy and he’s been there, so I just think he’ll be able to bring a good presence to D.J.,” Swinney said. “He’s got a great mind, he’s got great eyes, so he’s going to be Coach Lawrence. And Skalski is going to be with us as well, so we’ll have Coach Lawrence and Coach Skalski this week. I told them I wasn’t going to take them unless they were going to be productive coaches for us, so that’s going to be their roles this week, and they’ll both take a lot of pride in that.”
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