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Watkins said he’ll continue to work hard at practice and on the sidelines during the games he’s missed. He’ll be ready, he says, to play just as well as ever when he’s eligible to return Sept. 15 against FCS opponent Furman.

“The fact is even though I’ve messed up, I’ve still got to come out and work hard like I’ve been doing,” he said.

Swinney told the players of Watkins‘ punishment Friday. Center Dalton Freeman said he understood the suspension, but was ready to move on.

“There’s nothing we can do about it,” Freeman said. “Now we just have to get ready and put it behind us.”