Dabo Swinney's top-ranked Clemson Tigers have shown great discipline and self-control thoughout the course of their undefeated season, but it would appear that three players failed to exercise that self-control amid the distractions and temptations of bowl week. Freshman wide receiver Deon Cain, senior kicker Ammon Lakip and junior tight end Jay Jay McCullough were sent home prior to Tuesday's practice for, reportedly, failing their drug tests.
This is not the first transgression for Lakip, who was arrested over the summer for cocaine possession and was consequently suspended for the first three games of the season. As a result, he lost his starting job to freshman walk-on Greg Huegel, who made the most of his opportunity and was named Second-Team All-American.
Deon Cain has also been less than a paradigm of good conduct. He was benched for his homecoming game at Miami back in October, for what Dabo characterized an "attitude adjustment." Dabo said afterward that Cain handled the one-game suspension as well as he could have hoped, and his play on the field since has been sensational. The true freshman star recorded a touchdown reception in five consecutive games, breaking the freshman record set by fellow Floridian Sammy Watkins.
Jay Jay McCullough is a talented backup tight end who has shown potential, but he has been in and out of Dabo's dog house with great frequency throughout his career.
Dabo revealed during his press conference Wednesday morning that Cain will have an opportunity to earn his spot on the team back if he "does the right thing." Lakip is a senior, so his college football career would have been over at the conclusion of the playoff regardless. McCullough has one year of eligibility left, but his playing career at Clemson is at an end. He is on course to graduate and will have the option of playing his final year elsewhere.
Dabo said that the suspensions have not distracted the rest of the team whatsoever. With regard to Cain, he was the backup for Charone Peake, who has come on of late. There is no disputing that Cain's talent and contribution to this offense will be missed, but the Tigers have several other weapons, including redshirt freshman Trevion Thompson, and it is truly a "next man up" mentality for the #1 team.