Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence says he has no idea what may have led to his failed NCAA test for performance-enhancing drugs and still holds out hope he will be able to play for the No. 2 Tigers against No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.
The 6-foot-4, 350-pound Lawrence participated in Clemson’s College Football Playoff media day session Thursday even though he might not play Saturday. Lawrence is facing an NCAA suspension for the failed drug test. The school is hoping additional testing could clear him and Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said he expected to receive final word from the NCAA later Thursday.
Swinney announced earlier in the week the school had been notified by the NCAA about the failed tests by Lawrence, reserve offensive tackle Zach Giella and freshman tight end Braden Galloway. Swinney said the players were found to have trace amounts of a substance called ostarine, which can act like an anabolic steroid.
Lawrence’s appearance at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was something of a surprise. Like the most of the other starters, he had a small table set up for him with a name card. He sat and answered questions for most of the 45-minute session, but the crowd of reporters thinned after about 20 minutes.
Lawrence, a likely first-round draft pick if he enters the 2019 draft as a junior, said he would never even think about purposely taking something like that.
“I’m not the type of guy to do a selfish act like that, I have too much pride,” Lawrence said. “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. I don’t know how it got there.”
Lawrence has been attending practice and doing some drills, but not taking repetitions with starters. He has 7 1/2 tackles for loss this season and is one of the best run defenders in the country.
“I want to say right now I’m at peace. I know that I have no control on what the ‘B’ sample result will be,” Lawrence said. “I’m just here to support my teammates and just try to be the leader and starter I’ve been all year.”
Media day for both CFP semifinals were held simultaneously with No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma meeting with reporters at the Orange Bowl in South Florida.
Alabama also had three players suspended for its game, but did not provide details as to why. Alabama coach Nick Saban said starting left guard Deonte Brown, tight end Kedrick James and offensive lineman Elliot Baker committed an NCAA violation and would not play again this season. None of the players made the trip to Miami with the team.
The news in South Florida was Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray being in attendance at media. The Heisman Trophy winner missed media availability on Wednesday because he was not feeling well, though he did practice.
Murray was coughing and sniffling a bit, but said there was no doubt he would play Saturday.
Backup quarterbacks drew attention at both semifinal sites.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly confirmed that Brandon Wimbush has taken the steps necessary to transfer. The quarterback’s name is in the transfer database, but no final decision has been made.
Wimbush declined to talk about what he has told Kelly about his future, but did acknowledge he has decisions to make about his future after the season. Wimbush would be a graduate transfer and eligible to play immediately next season.
“We’re a couple days away from this game and I don’t want anything to be a distraction,” said Wimbush, who started the first three games of the season before losing the job to Ian Book. “I’m excited for what’s to come and what lies ahead and I have a year of eligibility left. I’m excited to fulfil that.”
Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, the Tide’s starter for the last two seasons before Tua Tagovailoa won the job this year. Hurts could also be a graduate transfer with immediate eligibility.
“My story’s still unfolding. Just have to see what’s up next,” Hurts said.
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