COLUMBIA — Clemson All-America receiver Sammy Watkins won’t play against Boston College because of an abdominal virus.
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney announced Watkins status after practice Thursday. The team is scheduled to leave for Boston on Friday.
The absence of Watkins means the 17th-ranked Tigers (3-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) will be without two main players in their wide receiver rotation. On Tuesday, Clemson lost backup Martavis Bryant to a groin injury the sophomore suffered while working out at the team’s strength facility.
Watkins will miss his third game of the season after sitting out Clemson’s first two contests because of a suspension for an offseason drug arrest.
Swinney said Watkins had taken himself out at the end of practices on Tuesday and Wednesday because he didn’t feel well.
On Thursday, Watkins “was worse and after going to the doctor it was determined that he needed to stay here this weekend,” Swinney said.
Watkins had been working himself back into the lineup the past two games. His season debut came against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Furman on Sept. 15 and he took a handoff 58 yards for touchdown, the sophomore’s first-ever rushing TD.
Last week, Watkins threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Andre Ellington that gave Clemson a 28-14 lead in the third quarter against Florida State. The Tigers eventually lost, 49-37.
Watkins was mostly held in check by No. 4 Florida State. While he caught six passes, Watkins ended with just 24 yards. He’s got 10 catches for 76 yards and no touchdowns this year. Watkins has 228 all-purpose yards in the two games he has played.
Watkins was a freshman sensation a year ago, setting single-season school records with 1,219 yards and 12 touchdown catches in 2011.
Watkins was a big part of Clemson’s 36-14 victory over the Eagles last season with seven catches for 152 yards.
The Tigers are looking to bounce back from the Florida State game, a loss that leaves the defending ACC champions needing plenty of help to pass the Seminoles in the league’s Atlantic Division race.
Losing Watkins and Bryant does not just affect the teams receiving corp. The two speedy sophomores also return kicks for the Tigers.
Watkins is expected back for Clemson’s home game with Georgia Tech on Oct. 6. Bryant is not scheduled to return before the Tigers face Virginia Tech on Oct. 20.
When Watkins was on the bench the first two games, junior receiver DeAndre Hopkins filled the gap. He caught a Clemson single-game record 13 passes in the team’s season-opening victory over Auburn, then had three touchdown receptions as the Tigers defeated Ball State a week later.
Backup receivers Adam Humphries and Charone Peake also saw more action with Watkins out, combining for 19 catches in the Tigers’ first two games.
Swinney said the team would bring freshman Germone Hopper to Boston. Hopper has not played this season and Swinney’s intention is still to use this as a redshirt season for him. However, Swinney said Hopper would see action in an emergency.
Swinney also said backup offensive lineman Kalon Davis pulled a hamstring at practice Thursday and would not play against the Eagles.