As Clemson continues its investigation into how three football players tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug before the Dec. 29 Cotton Bowl, Dexter Lawrence is looking on with particular interest.
Perhaps no one has more invested in the answer to that question than Lawrence, the Tigers' former star defensive tackle and one of the three players who tested positive for ostarine, a banned PED.
Lawrence, who was suspended for both the Cotton Bowl and the national championship win over Alabama, is projected as a first-round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. The 6-4, 350-pounder knows he'll face questions about the failed drug test at the NFL Combine, which starts Feb. 26.
"I do want to know how it got in my system and where it came from," Lawrence said Saturday before an appearance at the Fan Zone in North Charleston. "But right now, they are still doing their research to see where exactly it came from, and they don't know where right now."
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney acknowledged last week that the banned drug could have been given to the players by the school itself, by mistake.
Lawrence said his plan for questions about PEDs from NFL teams at the combine is simple.
"Just tell the truth," he said. "That's all I can do. It was heartbreaking when I heard about it, but it's just life. You've got to be tested sometimes just to bring out your character, and that's how I'm going about it."
Braden Galloway and Zach Giella were the other Clemson players who tested positive for ostarine, a PED classified as a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that is banned for human use by the FDA.
Galloway and Giella both have eligibility left at Clemson, and Lawrence said he speaks with them often.
"I talk to them a couple of days out of the week, just to make sure they are doing all right, keeping their heads up and grinding," Lawrence said. "You never know what might come out of this, so they have to keep being themselves, because I know they didn't intentionally take anything, either. That's not the kind of guys they are, and I talk to them just to keep their spirits up."
Clemson has received a 45-day extension on the school's appeal on the drug tests from the NCAA. The school has not responded to questions from The Post and Courier, e-mailed on Jan. 31, asking what supplements were offered players during the season and who oversees the distribution of those supplements.
Last week, Swinney said that the banned substance could have come from within the program.
"Oh yeah, I mean, there's a chance it could come from anything," he said. "... As you really look at this stuff, it could be a contaminant that came from anything and, all of a sudden, it becomes there was something."
Former Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph, also at the Fan Zone on Saturday, said he was not one of the 18 or 19 Tigers tested by the NCAA before the Cotton Bowl. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, also at the autograph session, refused to answer questions about the drug tests.
"Clemson has a good reputation and Coach Swinney has a great reputation," said Joseph, who also is preparing for the NFL Combine. "Clemson does it right, so that was just a freak thing, I believe.
"Coach didn't suspend players and say it was for undisclosed reasons or anything like that," he said. "He kept it real. We have nothing to hide at Clemson."