orlando, florida. — While dozens of the nation’s top college football players opt out of bowling, those at Clemson are still betting.
the no. The 19th-ranked Tigers (9-3) have a full roster, including NFL prospects, for Wednesday’s (5:45 p.m., ESPN) Cheez-It Bowl against Iowa State (7-5) in camping world stadium
Reading: Iowa state football opt outs
“They’re all here,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday.
iowa state’s all-time leading runner, breece hall, is also here, but he won’t be in uniform. Hall is one of the high-profile players who has decided not to risk injury ahead of the NFL draft. he is expected to be the best running back selected.
hall’s defense against clemson was one of the most attractive things about this bowling game. the junior ranks sixth nationally in rushing yards per game (122.0) and has scored 20 touchdowns. He holds Iowa state records for most career TDs (56), most rushing TDs (50), and most points (336).
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And while it’s disappointing for fans on both sides not to see him play in the bowl game, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said he fully supported Hall’s decision.
“he’s a young man who has done everything he can to improve iowa state football,” campbell said. “We certainly understand the situation and the opportunity that he has in front of him. i would say breece has been the top leader in the brokers room ever since he decided it was in his best interest not to play in this game. I think that’s what I love about Breece. he is one of those young men who has been an integral part of the growth of our soccer program in every way and shape.”
clemson also has a standout prospect. junior cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. He is projected to be in the top half of the first round draft and some pundits have him as a top 10 pick as the best player at his position. Booth has as much at stake as Hall, if not more, but he has been practicing with his teammates at a local high school with the intention of finishing the season with the team.
“That’s a testament to our program that coach swinney built,” said wes goodwin, clemson’s defensive co-coordinator. “We use ‘all-in’ all the time, but honestly, these guys are fully committed full-show guys.”
“We’ve always tried to really value the bowl experience,” Swinney said, “always really tried to make it a memorable experience for our families and our players. … We have a lot of guys who are going to be wearing that paw for one last time and it’s important to them. It’s a big deal.”
there were many players who left these teams during the season by the transfer portal, however, 12 by the state of iowa and nine by clemson.
Other Clemson players, at least the healthy ones, with immediate NFL aspirations include defensive end Xavier Thomas, cornerback Mario Goodrich, defensive tackle Tyler Davis and linebacker James Skalski. they’ll probably have to be taken off the field at some point Wednesday night.
“We can play soccer,” said Skalski. “yeah, we’ve been to the playoffs and on bigger stages. but for us, we can play a game again. we have a chance to represent clemson. and show everyone what we can do, including ourselves. i think everyone we love to play ball and we love to be together.”
“It means a lot,” said Clemson freshman running back Will Shipley. “I just think it’s continuing the culture that we’ve created. you’ve got guys that could go to the first round easily, and they stay and fight even though we’re not playing in a playoff game. we’re here in orlando playing in the cheez-it bowl and no one opted out.
“…I think everyone was speculating, waiting to see if something would happen, if someone was going to opt out. seeing that no one did was kind of a breath of fresh air. fill your blood with oxygen.
Cheez-It-loving Clemson running back Will Shipley enjoying ‘different vibe’ in Orlando
hall, meanwhile, is in good company. Pitt’s quarterback Kenny Pickett, who led his team to the ACC championship, will not play in the Peach Bowl. leading acc tackler payton wilson and two n.c. state teammates have also opted out of their bowl game. so they have projected no. 1 picks Kayvon Thibodeaux, defensive end at Oregon; michigan state broker kenneth walker iii; west virginia running after leddie brown; Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams and security Kyle Hamilton; missouri running back tyler badie; and ole miss top receiver Elijah Moore.
The Ohio State players who opted out of the Rose Bowl include wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere and defensive lineman Haskell Garrett. Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph resigned before the regular season ended.
“What’s going on in the big picture of college football, Coach Swinney and I have had those conversations,” Campbell said. “It’s certainly an interesting time as far as where we’re going and what’s going to happen. but I do think these bowl experiences are really special.”