After practice audio from Tommy Bowden: Windows Media
CLEMSON - Clemson sophomore linebacker Antonio Clay's status for Saturday's season-opener with Florida Atlantic is up in the air after his older sister was killed in an automobile accident Tuesday evening.
Head coach Tommy Bowden, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said he spoke with Clay around 9 p.m. Tuesday night and told him to do whatever is best for his family.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with him," Bowden said. "Whether he plays or not will be up to the family. I'm not going to interfere with that. We've prepared like he won't be here, but we'll let the decision be theirs."
Yoshanda Sanders, 22, of Jeffersonville, GA died in a one-car auto accident in Jeffersonville Tuesday according to the Macon Telegraph's website.
Bowden is no stranger to such events, having lost a brother-in-law and a nephew in an accident approximately two years ago. His own personal tragedy gave him a unique perspective when talking to Clay.
"I had told kids (news like that) before, but (when) you experience it you have a greater appreciation for what they're going through," said Bowden. "Everything else truly does go on the back burner. Everything else is insignificant, which it should be.
"I can imagine the game's the last thing on his mind, and it should be. This is one of the harder things about (coaching)."
Clay left Wednesday morning to be with his family.
If he chooses not to play Saturday, Maurice Nelson will move into the starting linebacker spot. He would be backed up by true freshman Jeremy Campbell.
In other news Wednesday, Bowden confirmed the suspension of cornerback C.J. Gaddis for "violation of academic policy." The suspension is expected to last just one game.
Wednesday's practice was moved indoors due to lightning in the area.
Bowden said the punting competition between Cole Chason and Jimmy Maners would go at least one more day. Neither, he said, has the inside track on the job at the moment.