Dec. 18, 2007
Clemson, SC – Clemson starting linebackers Nick Watkins and Tramaine Billie, and starting offensive tackle Christian Capote, have been ruled ineligible for the Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Auburn due to academic issues. All three were fifth-year seniors in 2007.
“I am disappointed that these young men will not be able to play in our bowl game with Auburn,” said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden. “They had every opportunity to retain their eligibility. The staff at Vickery Hall did everything it could to provide them tutors and assist them with their studies. But, they are accountable for their academic performance. All three can still graduate from Clemson and I will do everything I can to encourage them to do so.
“As we look to the bowl game, it is an opportunity for some young players to step up. Their replacements will be players who will return for next year so it will give them game experience against an outstanding opponent, which will be beneficial as we look to the future.”
With Billie and Watkins out of the lineup, it means Clemson will not have a single senior on its defensive two-deep for the Auburn game.
Based on the Clemson depth chart, sophomore Kavell Conner would replace Watkins, freshman Scotty Cooper would replace Billie and freshman Chris Hairston would replace Capote.
Watkins and Billie were two of Clemson’s top three tacklers on the Tiger defense that ranks in the top 10 in the nation in scoring defense, total defense and pass defense. Watkins, a three year starter, finishes his career with 386 tackles, seventh in Clemson history. He was Clemson’s leading tackler in 2006 with 116 and 2007 with 118.
Billie was third on the team in tackles this year with 79 and also started for the Tigers in 2004 and 2005. Capote started all 12 games at right tackle this season, his only year as a starter, and had 71 knockdown blocks, fourth on the Clemson team.
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