CLEMSON – Four Clemson juniors will participate in the No. 2 Tiger’s annual Senior Day festivities before Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game against Pittsburgh.
That’s a pretty clear sign of their intentions beyond the 2016 season.
It's no secret that quarterback Deshaun Watson, running back Wayne Gallman, receiver Mike Williams and receiver Artavis Scott will be recognized in front of the home crowd at Death Valley.
“Those guys indicated to me back in the summer this was going to be it for them and they’re going to graduate in December,” said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on Tuesday. “They’re more seniors than some of the seniors.”
Swinney allows any player who is set to graduate in December or May is eligible to participate in Senior Day. And all four of those juniors will earn their degrees a little over a month from now.
“All of those guys are moving on. We definitely want to honor them while we have the opportunity,” Swinney said. “They’ve earned that.”
Fifth-year senior Jay Guillermo said it takes a “tremendous amount of effort” to graduate early.
“I’m graduating in December and it’s taking me five years,” Guillermo, the starting center said. “Those guys are such intelligent guys. Those guys have worked ever since they got here.”
He also praised Swinney’s system for allowing players to run down the Hill on Senior Day if they’re about to graduate.
“Coach Swinney really advocates that,” Guillermo said. “He says all the time, ‘Till graduation do us part.’ He really means it.”
Watson and Williams have been on plenty of 2017 NFL Draft boards all season. Gallman and Scott might not be taken nearly as early, but Swinney thinks they’ll both be outstanding pros.
“I think both of them are certainly ready to play at the next level,” Swinney said. “Both of those guys are going to have their degrees and I support them 100 percent in that. I really do.
“I think Wayne is definitely ready and is going to make a great NFL player for somebody. (Scott’s) like a Swiss Army knife. He’s got a lot of options.”
Scott said Monday that he wants to finish the season strong before he makes his final decision, but he and his family decided after his successful freshman year that it would be in his best interest to get his degree in three years and be ready to go pro if that’s his best option.
Swinney took strong exception to a question Scott and Swinney were asked this week about Scott’s frustration with not getting more touches.
During an intense rant, Swinney pointed out that the receiver is second on the team in catches with 38 and that every player would like the ball more.
“He hasn’t had a down year. I don’t want that rhetoric out there,” Swinney said. “He’s had a great year, not a down year.”
Swinney said Tuesday that Deshaun Watson, who bruised his shoulder last week, is on plan to practice this week but wouldn’t elaborate any further on his availability. Watson, who’s listed as probable on the injury report, was not made available to the media this week, but backup QB Nick Schuessler was.
Swinney said WR Ray-Ray McCloud (ankle) moved around well in practice Monday, and RT Jake Fruhmorgen (shoulder) is day-to-day.
Brad Senkiw, Anderson Independent-Mail