DALLAS (TNS) — Clemson is going on the assumption that star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence will be suspended for its semifinal playoff game against Notre Dame after failing an NCAA drug test.
Asked Wednesday if he's holding out hope for Saturday's Cotton Bowl, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables replied: "I don't have any hope like that. Hopefully that doesn't sound bad. I love Dexter and have great appreciation for who he is and the work he has put it in. You feel heartbroken for him."
In revealing the suspensions Monday to three players, head coach Dabo Swinney said he hoped the results of "B" sample testing would clear Lawrence and two backups: offensive lineman Zach Giella and tight end Braden Galloway.
Swinney was not part of Wednesday morning's media sessions.
Venables, meanwhile, said he's not aware of the "B" sample results.
"No one has given me that update ... But we have full confidence in the guys who will play (in his place)," he said.
The 340-pound, lane-clogging Lawrence is viewed as a top-10 pick in the NFL draft, but Clemson still has two All-Americans on the defensive line in Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell.
Venables also mentioned his confidence in Jordan Williams, Albert Huggins and Nyles Pinckney.
Clemson players said they feel terrible for their suspended teammates and echoed Swinney's contention about the performance-enhancing substance ostarine that was found in the players' systems.
Swinney on Monday said ostarine "could come from hair products. It could come from a cream. It could come from protein. It could come from a product that you order or buy online that you think there's nothing wrong with. It could be anything."
Said Wilkins: "It's such a weird situation. He is clearly not taking anything. He doesn't need to take anything. ... You're always cognizant of what you put in your body. From what I hear, this could have come from anywhere or anything."
That's a stretch, but an attorney who litigates false advertising claims in the sports supplement industry believes the players might have fallen victim to "production contamination."
Robert Tauler, a trial lawyer for the Los Angeles firm Tauler Smith, told the Tribune that bits of ostarine can end up in NCAA-approved supplements such as protein powder if factory workers are not careful about product "runoff" or diligent about cleaning the machinery.
"We've seen it happen a lot," Tauler said. "Athletes' careers are in jeopardy, and it's really a travesty. The concept that they would take (ostarine) and risk everything is ridiculous; the effect is not even close to that of steroids."
Tauler said the chance of ostarine appearing in shampoo is "theoretically possible" but extremely unlikely.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame center Sam Mustipher said the Irish did not breath a sigh of relief when they heard the news on Lawrence, for two reasons.
One, Mustipher said, "I'll believe it when he doesn't show up Saturday in pads."
Two, he said that even without Lawrence, Clemson's front seven is "incredible. The backups, the linebackers. When you have a group that is that talented, other guys can step in and not miss a beat."