CLEMSON — During a media briefing Tuesday, Dabo Swinney was asked about the status of star rising sophomore receiver Sammy Watkins, who was arrested in early May on a pair of drug charges. He has yet to issue a punishment in the matter, and said he’d likely wait until closer to the beginning of the season to do so.
“Sammy has a process he has to deal with and got to fulfill this summer,” Swinney said. “A lot of that is going to depend on how he responds. So far he’s hit a home run in every category in how he’s responded to this situation. Hopefully he’s learned a pretty strong lesson from this. We all make mistakes, and again, as long as lessons are learned, you grow from it and move forward.”
Swinney said he has a “high end and low end” of punishment planned, but when asked if there was any chance Watkins would not miss playing time, he said “probably not.”
Watkins has also applied for pre-trial intervention in the matter.
“What he does this summer, plus some other factors, how he’s handled himself from the day he arrives on this campus, ultimately that will determine what I do,” Swinney said.
He added that fellow five-star recruit Mike Bellamy, who will play this season at a Mississippi junior college after becoming academically ineligible, could conceivably, possibly return to Clemson.
“If he goes and has a great year, gets himself on track academically, does what he’s supposed to as a player, that door’s open,” Swinney said. “That’s solely dependent on him.”
Bellamy could have stayed on campus and sat out this fall, but Swinney said Bellamy is “one of those guys that we don’t think it would have been best for him. He needs to keep developing as a player.”
Bellamy earned his way back onto the spring roster after being sent home from the ACC title game and suspended for the Orange Bowl for being a distraction to his teammates, but didn’t make academic progress.
“It’s disappointing because he made so much improvement in a lot of areas,” Swinney said. “To come up short, academically, it’s frustrating. You don’t feel like you’re getting the chance to finish the race with him. If he wants to, he’ll get back on track and do what he needs to do.
“He’d have been much better having been at Clemson. Hopefully this will be a wakeup call for him. He’s not going to have the same things in place as a junior college as here. This will be one of the things that really help him commit to be his best.”