CLEMSON -- Clemson linebacker Scotty Cooper has given up football, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said after Monday's practice.

Cooper injured his neck against Maryland last year and dealt with effects from the injury this spring and summer. Cooper was listed as the backup to strongside linebacker Quandon Christian entering camp.

"Scotty has had problems with a nerve in his neck and the only way to solve the problem is to not hit anyone," said Swinney. "Scotty is a violent player who hits people when he plays this sport, and the only way he can get better is to give up football.

"This is a big loss for us because we counted on him making plays for our defense at the linebacker position. But his health is much more important. He will stay with our program as a student coach the next two years. He aspires to go into the coaching profession, so this will be a good way for him to learn.


Matt Patchan is back at practice, but the player competing with him at left tackle is out with a knee injury.

Coach Urban Meyer says sophomore Xavier Nixon, who started the final five games last season, is having his left knee checked and could miss fourth-ranked Florida's opener Sept. 3 against Miami (Ohio).

Patchan sat out the last two weeks because of a broken bone in his right wrist. He was in a cast last week, but Meyer says he has returned to practice. Patchan is not participating in full-contact drills, though.


Senior Mike Hartline edged out a couple of youngsters to win the starting quarterback job.

Coach Joker Phillips announced that Hartline will be the starter when the Wildcats travel to rival Louisville on Sept. 4. Hartline was in a three-way battle with sophomore Morgan Newton and redshirt freshman Ryan Mossakowski.

Phillips says Hartline gives the Wildcats the best chance to win and has shown it during fall practice. Hartline threw for 802 yards and six touchdowns in an injury-plagued junior season.

Middle Tennessee

Campus police are investigating whether quarterback Dwight Dasher took money from an 80-year-old man to use for gambling.

According to a police report obtained by The Associated Press, Oliver Donnell, a patient at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Murfreesboro, reported Dasher to the police in July after the senior allegedly wouldn't return his phone calls.

Donnell told the Daily News Journal he lent $1,500 to Dasher to use for a high-stakes poker game with the promise the Folkston, Ga., native would split winnings with him. Donnell also says he has been interviewed by a consultant working for Middle Tennessee to determine if Dasher's eligibility status was in jeopardy.