Etta-Tawo's Season On Hold With Heart Problem

by - Correspondent -

After practice audio from Tommy Bowden: Windows Media

After practice audio from Etta Etta-Tawo: Windows Media

CLEMSON - Etta Etta-Tawo's season, and perhaps his football career, has come to an abrupt halt this week as doctors search for the cause of an abnormal heart rate.

Etta-Tawo, speaking to reporters after Clemson wrapped up practice on Thursday, said he began experiencing chest pains during Monday's workout. A post-practice examination by trainer Danny Poole discovered the abnormal heart rate.

A Wednesday visit to a Greenville cardiologist failed to disclose the cause of the problem. Etta-Tawo, a freshman defensive lineman, is scheduled to have yet another procedure done at 8 p.m. Friday morning in an attempt to discover why, suddenly, his heart is causing major concern.

"This whole situation is kind of shocking because I've been playing football for eight or nine years now and nothing like this has ever happened to me before," Etta-Tawo said. "There's no past (history) of heart problems in my family at all. So it's kind of a shocker."

Friday's test involves running a tube from Etta-Tawo's leg into the area of the heart, during which it is hoped the cause of the abnormal heart rate can finally be discovered. Until then, Etta-Tawo has been told to avoid all exercise or physical activity.

He said the chest pains haven't returned since Monday's episode. He currently is on medication to keep the heart rate under control until the cause can be found.

"I've been coming along on the field, but when they start talking about your heart there's no joking around," Etta-Tawo said. "We have to take this seriously."

As he spoke, teammates and coaches stopped by offering encouragement. Be it a gentle pat on the back, or a few soft words - as he got from assistants Brad Scott and Rob Spence - all involved showed a genuine concern for Etta-Tawo's mental state, as well as his physical condition.

Etta-Tawo has played in all five Clemson games so far this season, totaling 54 snaps. He had two tackles in 15 snaps against Louisiana Tech, and played a season-high 18 snaps vs. Florida State.


- Running back Reggie Merriweather will make the trip but likely won't play. He is still listed as doubtful with the ankle injury.

"Everything we saw, the swelling going down, where the pain was coming from, how quickly it went away, all that indicated it would be a one-week thing," head coach Tommy Bowden said after practice. "But it's turned into more. Were he a lineman he'd probably play. But a running back, needing to cut and change directions, he just can't do it right now."

- Saturday's game with Wake Forest has been officially set for ESPN, according to the network, and not ESPN Classic. Kickoff is 12:02 p.m.

- Is Clemson taking Wake Forest seriously?

"No doubt," Bowden said. "But I thought we took them seriously last year because of what happened up there two years ago."

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