CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney was asked if Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant and linebacker Stephone Anthony — both juniors — might consider submitting their names for NFL Draft grades at the completion of their third seasons.
Swinney was firm in his response — so firm that even junior defensive end Vic Beasley, one of 16 Bednarik Award semifinalists — should take note.
“I don’t think any of those guys should come out other than maybe Sammy (Watkins),” Swinney said Monday. “I think all those guys need another year. I don’t think there’s any question about it. If anybody’s telling them otherwise, they’re not very well-informed.”
Watkins, a junior receiver, has long been presumed to leave Clemson after this season. One of 10 Biletkinoff semifinalists announced Monday, he’s eighth in the country with 1,086 receiving yards and widely considered to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft in May.
“Sammy’s got a decision to make, because I don’t see any way possible that he’s not one of the top 10 picks out there,” Swinney said. “But we haven’t had that discussion with him. He’ll have to make that decision when the time comes.
“If you’re not a first-rounder, I just don’t think it’s to your benefit to come out and give up school and an opportunity to improve your stock. I’ve always felt that way and still do.”
That’s what makes Beasley, in national contention for three different individual awards (Bednarik, Lombardi and Hendricks) honoring defensive players, an interesting case.
WalterFootball.com, a web site dedicated to rating player prospects, projects Beasley to be picked sixth in the upcoming draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has rated him as high as eighth, while NFLDraftScout.com tabs him somewhere in the middle of the 32 players to be picked in the first round.
Meanwhile, Scouts.Inc — which provides ESPN’s Big Board — doesn’t even rate Beasley in their database, despite rating Watkins eighth overall.
Beasley, who’s tied for sixth nationally with 10 sacks (but just two in his last five games), said Oct. 14 he hasn’t made a firm decision but is leaning toward foregoing his senior year.
“Could those guys come out? Absolutely. Play on the next level, maximize their opportunity,” Swinney said. “Everybody makes decisions for different reasons. If guys decide to do that, you deal with it and move on. We’d wish them well.”
Night time the right time
With Monday’s announcement that No. 7 Clemson will kick off at No. 12 South Carolina at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30 televised by ESPN2, that makes for the fourth consecutive meeting — and eight of the past 12 — occurring at night.
The Gamecocks won the last three clashes, but Clemson claimed the previous four contests in prime time.
This will be the Tigers’ fifth night kickoff of 2013. They beat Georgia on Aug. 31 and defeated N.C. State and Georgia Tech in Thursday night games, while losing to Florida State Oct. 19.
In 2012, Clemson went 4-2 at night; in 2011, it was 3-3. If the Tigers’ eventual bowl game kicks off late, it will be their third straight year with six scheduled night games.
Boyd is fine
Even though quarterback Tajh Boyd admitted he heard a crunching sound near his collarbone on the third-quarter tackle Thursday against Georgia Tech that ended his evening, Swinney seemed surprised he was still fielding questions four days later about his star player’s health.
“Tajh is fine,” Swinney said. “He wanted to come back in the other night.”
Boyd was said to have a bruised sternum, but did not break his collarbone as initially (if not seriously) feared.
Asked if Boyd’s 100 percent, Swinney responded, “Nobody’s 100 percent. I think if anybody said they’re 100 percent right now after 10 ball games, they’re not very honest with you. I don’t care if the kicker’s not 100 percent. Everybody’s got bumps and bruises. But can he go and play four quarters of football? Absolutely.”
Senior running back Roderick McDowell never considered himself the workhorse back. But he hasn’t had a choice.
With Zac Brooks (shoulder), C.J. Davidson (knee) and D.J. Howard (ankle) each nursing assorted ailments and limited in practice, McDowell — who’s had his own setbacks with a concussion and sprained ankle in 2013 — has been thrust into action as the lone option in the backfield.
“He is our every-down back right now. It is what it is,” offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “I’ve been pleased with Hot Rod and his ability to welcome his role. Sometimes he’s in a position being asked to do some things he’s maybe not very comfortable of doing, but what you like about him is he gets in there and does it.”
Other than a 30-carry performance at Maryland Oct. 26,, McDowell has logged between 11 and 18 carries in every game in October and November. He’s averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and his 737 rushing yards ranks him fourth in the ACC.
“He does get better with the more carries he gets,” Morris said. “We know what he’s capable of doing.”