A contributor from Clemson’s national championship team has hit the graduate transfer market.
After multiple reports emerged Friday morning, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney confirmed that defensive tackle Scott Pagano is leaving the Tigers. Pagano has already graduated from Clemson but has one season of eligibility remaining. Wherever Pagano ends up, he will be able to suit up immediately for the 2017 season.
“I met with Scott Pagano (Thursday). We had a good talk and he told me about his intentions to be a graduate transfer for his final year of eligibility. I told him to think about it overnight. We all wanted him to stay, but he said he had accomplished everything he wanted to do at Clemson. He came here to graduate and win a national championship and he achieved both within the last two months,” Swinney said.
Pagano started four games for the Tigers in 2016 and played in 12 as a key member of the team’s defensive line rotation. Despite missing several games with a foot injury, he finished the year with 31 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. In 2015, Pagano started nine of 15 games, totaling 51 tackles. He also had 10 tackles in 2014 as a redshirt freshman.
He was expected to compete once again for a starting role alongside star Christian Wilkins in 2017 following the graduation of Carlos Watkins. Instead, with the team chock full of talent along the defensive line, Pagano will take his talents elsewhere.
Wilkins played defensive end for much of the 2016 season. With Pagano’s departure, Wilkins would presumably slide back inside at tackle alongside reigning ACC freshman of the year Dexter Lawrence. Clelin Ferrell, who emerged as a potential star late in the year, returns at end as well.
Pagano will be coveted by many schools looking for an upgrade along the defensive line. Players with the skill and experience of Pagano, who tested the NFL draft waters before opting to return for his final season of college ball, don’t come along all that often. He should make an immediate impact, perhaps as a team’s No. 1 interior lineman, wherever he lands.
In his statement, Swinney indicated that Pagano, a native of Hawaii, would likely look at schools on the west coast.
“He indicated to me that he wants to start his graduate degree and play his final year of college football, probably on the West Coast,” Swinney said. “I wish him nothing but the best. Scott Pagano has been a fully committed person to the program. He has always been committed to do the best he could in everything. We will miss him and he will always be one of my players and will be a part of our Clemson family.”
Pagano addressed his departure on his Facebook page:
From Scott Pagano's Facebook page, a heartfelt thanks. pic.twitter.com/VK2uPDY7cu
— Anna Hickey (@AnnaH247) February 17, 2017
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