Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney says he is “very optimistic” All-American Shaq Lawson will play in the national title game against Alabama after the defensive end missed most of the Tigers’ semifinal victory with a knee injury.

Lawson leads the Tigers (14-0) with 101/2 sacks and is tops in the country with 231/2 tackles for loss. The junior sprained his left knee in the first quarter of Clemson’s 37-17 victory against Oklahoma on Thursday and hardly played the rest of the game.

The top-ranked Tigers (14-0) face No. 2 Alabama (13-1) on Monday in Glendale, Arizona.

Lawson was set to practice today, Swinney said, and has already gone through workouts with the team.

“He looked pretty good, so, so far so good,” Swinney said Monday during a teleconference. “We’ll see him out there today, but I think the prognosis is good at this point. But got to get out there and run around a little bit today, and we’ll kind of go from there. I’m very optimistic that he’ll be able to play.”

Clemson doesn’t have great defensive line depth and has leaned heavily on first-string defensive ends Lawson and Kevin Dodd this season. With Lawson out, freshman Austin Bryant got substantial playing time. Bryant had four tackles and half a sack, including a key hit on a fourth-down stop against the Sooners.

“Really proud of him,” Swinney said. “It was huge. The fourth-and-1, the initial hit, was Austin Bryant, and it was Austin Bryant, Dorian O’Daniel and Kendall Joseph, another freshman who hasn’t played a lot, but those three guys were two freshmen and a sophomore making a big stop on fourth-and-1, which was a key play in the game. But that’s what you hope to get throughout the season is the development of some of those young guys.”


ALABAMA: Coach Nick Saban said defensive back Tony Brown remains suspended after he was sent home from the Cotton Bowl for violating team rules.

Brown was at No. 2 on Alabama’s depth chart at cornerback and safety heading into the Cotton Bowl against Michigan State.

TEXAS A&M: Quarterback Trevor Knight has chosen to use his final year of NCAA eligibility to play at Texas A&M after graduating from Oklahoma.

Knight went to high school in San Antonio, Texas, before enrolling at Oklahoma and redshirting in 2012.

He was the MVP of the Sugar Bowl win against Alabama following the 2013 regular season and was an Academic All-Big 12 selection in 2014.

STANFORD: Tight end Austin Hooper is leaving school early to enter the NFL draft.

Hooper, who had two years of eligibility remaining, is expected to be one of the top tight ends available. He had 74 catches for 937 yards and eight touchdowns in two seasons with the Cardinal.

There are six tight ends who played in the NFL this season who played at Stanford.

MISSISSIPPI: Receiver Laquon Treadwell declared for the NFL draft, three days after catching three touchdown passes in the Sugar Bowl.

The school released a statement announcing Treadwell’s decision on Monday. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior leaves Ole Miss with several school records.

OREGON: Wide receiver Bralon Addison will skip his final year of eligibility to declare for the NFL draft.

UTAH: Defensive coordinator John Pease announced that he is retiring. Again.

The university said assistant coach Morgan Scalley has been promoted to defensive coordinator to replace him.

Pease, 72, came out of retirement and returned to the program before the 2015 season. The Utes were in the top three in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense.

TENNESSEE: Larry Scott, who served as Miami’s interim head coach for the final six games this season, has agreed in principle to become Tennessee’s tight ends coach.