CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Suspended Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is headed to the NFL.
Lawrence is the 350-pound, 6-foot-4 lineman who missed the Tigers’ College Football Playoff games after he and two teammates tested positive for the banned substance ostarine. Lawrence attended both games and celebrated with teammates Monday night after a 44-16 victory over Alabama in the national championship game.
Lawrence announced his decision on Twitter Wednesday.
He was a three-year starter and is considered a first-round NFL pick in next spring’s draft.
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He is the third Clemson starter on defense to give up his eligibility to go pro. Earlier, cornerback Trayvon Mullen and linebacker Tre Lamar said they would enter the NFL draft. Mullen was the defensive MVP of the championship game.
Things did not end the way Lawrence wanted as he sat out wins over Notre Dame and the Crimson Tide after his drug test results. Lawrence and reserve offensive lineman Zach Giella and tight end Braden Galloway were each suspended the final two games.
All asked Clemson to appeal the NCAA suspension and could’ve faced a yearlong ban if turned down. Lawrence was likely turning pro even without the issues. Now, he’ll face the questions of future NFL employers.
Lawrence said before the Cotton Bowl he did not knowingly take the banned substance.
“I honestly don’t know what happened or how it got in,” he said before the Cotton Bowl. “It’s just there.”
Lawrence said in his announcement Wednesday that he was grateful for the “adversities and storms I went through here at Clemson. It has helped make me who I am today.”
He finished with 7.5 tackles for loss this season and tied for team high with seven quarterback hurries. Lawrence was also part of Clemson’s “Fridge Package” on offense with All-American defensive tackle Christian Wilkins in short-yardage situations.
Lawrence had a TD run in a 77-16 blowout of Louisville this season.
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