DALLAS, TX (WIS) - If the Clemson Tigers are going to advance to the national championship game in Santa Clara on Jan. 7, they’ll have to do it without the services of defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, offensive lineman Zach Giella, and tight end Braden Galloway.
According to Clemson athletics director Dan Radakovich, the Tigers received confirmation from the NCAA on Thursday evening.
“The athletic department will have no further comment on the matter this evening as it considers all of our options, including appeals,” Radakovich said in a statement released Thursday night.
Lawrence spoke to the media Thursday during Media Day at AT&T Stadium. During his time with reporters, the junior defensive lineman denied intentionally taking any banned substance ahead of the national semifinal.
“I’m not the type of guy to do a selfish act like that,” Lawrence said. “I have too much pride. I love this team and my family too much to even think about putting a substance like that in my body. I don’t know where it came from or how it got here. I was raised different. If I did do it, I own up to it. I honestly don’t know where it comes from or how it got in there. Just there. Nothing I can do about it.”
Lawrence, a first-team All-ACC selection, has 44 tackles on the year for the Tigers with 7.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Galloway has five catches for 52 yards in 12 games for the Tigers. Giella has played in 11 games for Clemson.
With Lawrence unavailable, former Orangeburg-Wilkinson standout Albert Huggins will likely be tapped to fill in for Lawrence on the defensive line. Huggins has played in all 13 games for the Tigers and has 24 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. For Huggins, the opportunity to start gives him a chance to show that he’s capable of filling the void left by Lawrence.
“I know I’m a good player,” Huggins said. “Coaches believe that I’m a good player. So, I don’t have a problem. I don’t put any pressure on myself. I just know I’ve got to go out and practice like I normally do. Every week, prepare like I always do. So, there’s no pressure.”
No. 2 Clemson faces No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium at 4 p.m. Saturday.