CLEMSON – Clemson received plenty of good news over the Christmas break.
Unlike last bowl season, Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney says they will take their full travel squad to face No. 7 Ohio State in the Orange Bowl next Friday.
On one end, that’s due to academics, taking zero hits among scholarship players, and it’s also due to a healthier roster.
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“Health-wise we're in good shape and had some guys that (scoped) some things that had been lingering,” Swinney said. “We'll have a few more guys that'll have some things to get done. We've got all hands on board right now.”
Sophomore running back Zac Brooks was in that group, posting a single carry in the Tigers’ last four games because of shoulder issues.
“He looks good,” Swinney said. “He had a scope on his labrum. He feels a lot better and he's practiced. We actually did that right after the South Carolina game so he's had a lot of time to get well and he's practiced well.”
Meanwhile for Clemson’s juniors, the NFL draft advisory board grades are in – and for some, not quite enough to make the jump in all likelihood.
Swinney has maintained since mid-November that only Biletnikoff finalist Sammy Watkins had a viable case for the jump, and he wouldn’t confirm or deny if he received a first-round grade Friday. What he tagged on to his Watkins’ comment gives an indication of what the rest received, including borderline guys like defensive end Vic Beasley and receiver Martavis Bryant.
“I'm not going to get into the grades of any of these guys, but I think we know Sammy Watkins is pretty good,” said Swinney. “ I don't know how much more confirmation we need on that guy right there.
“They all are about where I thought they'd be from a grades standpoint.”
Swinney says he’s met with a couple of the potential draftees and will have more meetings before they head down to Miami on Sunday.
Beasley told the media recently he was “leaning towards coming out,” while Bryant has indicated he will return with a grade lower than second or third round. The group will likely put off any announcement of their decisions until after the Orange Bowl.
"(We're) just going through the information we have and helping them make a good decision," Swinney said. "Whether it's asking questions or offering an opinion. Ultimately they make the decision and we support them and move on."