By Eric Boynton
All-American defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, along with a pair of reserves, will not be permitted to play in Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship against Alabama, Clemson announced Thursday.
Lawrence, freshman tight end Braden Galloway and redshirt junior offensive lineman Zach Giella were suspended before Clemson’s Cotton Bowl playoff semifinal victory over Notre Dame after testing positive for ostarine, a banned substance that acts similar to an anabolic steroid. Follow up B samples from the same tests also came back positive two days before the game in Arlington, Texas.
The three players will be allowed to travel with the team, which departs Friday for Santa Clara, California, where the game will be played in Levi’s Stadium, home of the 49ers.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters Monday the program was in the process of exploring every appeal, but he wasn’t hopeful in the short term due to the quick turnaround from the semifinals to the national championship. Athletic director Dan Radakovich said in Thursday’s release the administration will continue exploring all avenues of reinstatement toward next season.
“As requested by these student-athletes, Clemson filed notices of appeal with the NCAA,” Radakovich said. “We will continue to work with the three impacted and their legal representatives over the coming weeks to prepare appeals. Neither Clemson nor (the three players) anticipate having further comment on this matter until the appeals have concluded.”
All three players face a year-long suspension. The 6-foot-4, 350-pound Lawrence is eligible to declare early for the NFL draft and is projected as a first-round selection. Galloway must return and Gillea is not expected to play in the NFL.
Lawrence made a surprise appearance at last week’s Cotton Bowl media day, while the others have not spoken publicly about their suspensions.
“I’m not the type of guy to do a selfish act like that,” Lawrence said. “I have too much pride and 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, how it got there. I was raised different and if I did do it, I’d own up to it.”
Swinney said earlier this week, “There will be an appeal process our players for sure will want to battle because there’s consequences for next year. There’s a longer runway for dealing with that and the process that’s in place and what they’ve all got to do.”
Senior and former Shrine Bowl participant Albert Huggins started in place of Lawrence in the 30-3 win over Notre Dame. Clemson held the Fighting Irish to only 248 total yards, their lowest output of the season.