THREE TIGERS SUSPENDED FOR NATIONAL SEMI-FINAL …
Three members of the top-ranked Clemson University football team will miss this week’s national semi-final game against the University of Oklahoma due to failed drug tests.
The players are: Backup placekicker Ammon Lakip (a redshirt senior), starting wide receiver Deon Cain (a freshman) and backup tight end Jay Jay McCullough (a junior). Of the three, Cain is the only player who has contributed to the team in a meaningful way this season – hauling in thirty-four passes for 582 yards and five touchdowns.
A native of Tampa, Florida, Cain was held out of Clemson’s big win over the University of Miami earlier this year for “attitude” issues, according to head coach Dabo Swinney.
In fact just hours before news of his suspension broke, he told reporters that his benching had been a “teachable moment.”
Lakip, busted for drugs prior to the start of the season, lost his job to sophomore Greg Huegel – and was called upon to kick just one field goal and seven extra points this year. Meanwhile McCullough hasn’t caught a pass all season.
Oklahoma (11-1, 8-1 Big XII) is a 3.5 point favorite over the Tigers (13-0, 8-0 ACC) in a rematch of last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl. Clemson won that game 40-6 without starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, who finished in third place in this year’s Heisman Trophy vote.
Even without Cain, Watson will have receivers Artavis Scott (84 catches, 805 yards, five touchdowns) and Charone Peake (40 catches, 563 yards, five touchdowns) in the lineup – as well as tight end Jordan Leggett (34 catches, 442 yards, seven touchdowns).
Clemson will also continue to rely on the bruising running game of sophomore Wayne Gallman, who ran for 1,332 yards this season.
Bottom line? As long as Watson and Gallman are healthy and Clemson’s defense isn’t short-handed, expect the Tigers to manage just fine against the Sooners without these three players.
The winner of the Clemson-Oklahoma game will play the winner of the Alabama-Michigan State game for the national championship on January 11 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. All three games will be televised nationally by ESPN.