Clemson Football: Sheridan Jones’s bowl status in doubt

Clemson cornerback Sheridan Jones (6) during midweek interviews at the Poe Indoor Facility in Clemson Monday, October 17, 2022.Clemson Football Midweek Interviews Sheridan Jones Cornerback
Clemson cornerback Sheridan Jones (6) during midweek interviews at the Poe Indoor Facility in Clemson Monday, October 17, 2022.Clemson Football Midweek Interviews Sheridan Jones Cornerback /

Clemson Football might be without another starter for their Orange Bowl clash with the Tennessee Volunteers.

Sheridan Jones did not practice Wednesday. He was wearing street clothes. With the game tomorrow, this was not a good sign for Jones’s participation.

Jones could return for another season at Clemson, but he has accepted an invite to an all-star game. This is a good indicator that he doesn’t plan to return for the 2023 season.

Up until this week, we had every reason to think Jones would play in the Orange Bowl. We learned that Myles Murphy would opt out when Clemson began bowl practices. Shortly after it was confirmed that Trenton Simpson would miss the game due to injury.

It seemed like we had heard about all the players who were expected to miss the game, so Jones’s absence from practice was unexpected. There were two immediate possible reasons.

  1. He was injured during bowl practices.
  2. He has decided to opt out.

Injuries happen, unfortunately. Nobody likes injuries but everyone understands they are part of the game.

The other option isn’t as popular. Many fans still react negatively to a player opting out, especially so close to the bowl game.

This morning, we learned from head coach Dabo Swinney that Jones is dealing with an injury.

Jones is dealing with an injury. I can speak on this one – I had a hip flexor injury in 2020. It didn’t impact my every day routine, but it always hurt. If I tried any physical activity, it would get painful, sometimes severely. It also didn’t heal quickly. It took months of physical therapy.

I am an old man, however, at least compared to Jones. Is there a chance he can play? I would have to guess yes. My instincts tell me he won’t play, and I don’t blame him for choosing option #3: he could opt-out because of the injury.

Jones was not injury-free this season. He missed three games due to a stinger. He played most of the back half of the regular season schedule, but injuries and time missed can definitely hurt draft stock.

Draft projections for Jones are a little all over the place. Some have him as an early Day 3 pick. Others have him likely undrafted. His ability to play in an all-star game and be pain-free during evaluations by scouts is critical to his draft stock.

An aggravation of his hip flexor injury could slow Jones down right when he needs to be at his best. I can’t blame him one bit if he feels like he shouldn’t take the risk. I would be hesitant in his position.

I want all of Clemson’s players to play in all their games. I want all college players to take the post-season bowl game as seriously as any game of the season. Yes, that does mean I would prefer Jalin Hyatt played for Tennessee rather than opt out. College football is at its best when all the players opt in.

Jones might not play for Clemson Football in the Orange Bowl but I don’t blame him under these circumstances

That doesn’t mean I don’t understand the consequences for players if they encounter a setback. If a nagging injury worsened in a bowl game, it could impact their ability to impress scouts at the NFL Combine and their pro day.

That is why players with late-round draft projections opt out: their ability to perform at in-person evaluations could make the difference between getting drafted and having to catch on as an undrafted free agent. That difference could make or break their chances of having an NFL career.

As much as I would like Jones to play against Tennessee, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt that he is making the right decision for him.

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