Suspended USC defensive end Clifton Geathers has been given the OK to return to the team, although his return to the field depends on the health of his injured right eye.
Geathers, who was arrested Aug. 23 following an incident outside a Vista nightclub, received a modified one-game suspension that he will begin serving as soon as he is medically cleared to play.
Geathers will miss at least Thursday’s season opener at N.C. State. If doctors clear him prior to Thursday, Geathers would return for the Gamecocks’ Sept. 12 game at Georgia.
Geathers had not received medical clearance as of Tuesday evening, according to USC media relations director Steve Fink. Geathers did not attend Tuesday’s practice.
The injury is not as serious as coaches initially thought, but USC coach Steve Spurrier supported the university’s decision.
“He actually could play, but I think our university and I agree that he should sit a game,” Spurrier said on his call-in show. “So he’s definitely going to sit one and we’ll go from there.”
The 6-foot-8, 281-pound Geathers sustained a cracked right orbital bone the night he was arrested. He was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and public drunkenness after fighting with a bouncer at Club Ice and struggling with Columbia police officers who tried to detain him.
Geathers is scheduled to appear in Columbia municipal court on Friday morning.
Attempts to reach Geathers were unsuccessful. Reached by phone, Geathers’ mother said she did not want to serve as her son’s spokesperson.
Geathers was at Club Ice with a large group of USC players celebrating defensive back Chris Culliver’s 21st birthday. The club manager said players became unruly around the 2:30 a.m. closing time, and were pushing and shoving other club patrons.
Geathers, a junior from Georgetown, has a strong football lineage. His brother, Robert Jr., is a defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals, and his father and uncle also played in the NFL.
Geathers, who had 29 tackles in 13 games last season, was working with the first team at the time of his arrest. Redshirt freshman Devin Taylor will replace Geathers at N.C. State.
Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.