Swinney Eager to Get Back With Players

Christopher Hall

The process of returning to normalcy in college sports is officially underway after the NCAA announced last week to permit voluntary activity for football and basketball as of June 1. 

Now that the green light has been granted, Clemson is cautiously moving forward with its plans to resume athletic activities on campus.

Head coach Dabo Swinney met with the media via an audio-only zoom call on Monday. In his first media availability since April, Swinney discussed the impact of having players begin returning to campus and resuming workouts and meetings together for the first time since March. 

“Well, I think it's going to be the best thing for all of us to be together, to be honest with you," Swinney said. "I don't think that's going to be difficult at all and I think that's going to be a powerful help for all of us."

Swinney stated that while social distancing and remaining healthy are still vital, so too is just getting everyone back and loving on each other during such a trying time nationally. From the global pandemic of COVID-19 to the social unrest around the country following the death of George Floyd, a lot of people are hurting right now and Swinney spoke out on the issue.

Clemson is working towards phases II and III of its plan to gradually return to normal operations on campus with the health and safety of all remaining a top priority.

Swinney said that while it’ll be great to have that face-to-face interaction again. The team has been meeting and staying in communication virtually over the past several weeks. He is thankful they've been able to keep each other accountable during the pandemic. 

He noted that a lot of guys, who live off-campus, have been in the area for some time now and while they couldn’t access team facilities or have large gatherings, they’ve been close by and are ready to go to work.

“To be honest with you, the great majority of our team has been back for quite a while because most of our guys live off-campus," Swinney said. "They have a right to be back, they have their own places and things like that, and that's their choice. But now the on-campus guys are able to come back (too).” 

Everyone is eager to hit the field, but Swinney informed the media that the Tigers will be without a key returner this fall as wide receiver Justyn Ross is out for the year with a congenital fusion that will require surgery.

“They all know about Justyn as I addressed it with the team a couple of team meetings ago. So, they all know exactly what is going on there,” Swinney said. “But as far as everything going on in the world and just everybody being at home, these guys are way past ready to see their brothers and to get back together and hopefully continue to move forward and getting back to do doing what we what we love to do.”

Swinney said he is committed to ensuring his players are healthy, feel safe and are supported as they navigate uncharted territory.

“We try to do the same things that we always have done and that is to love them and to hopefully do all those things that I talked about earlier on a daily basis," Swinney said. "That is one of the things that has helped us sustain success for a long time around here is communication. I communicate with my players, I've had good conversations with several of those guys and our team is doing great.”