Clemson reinstates Sampson

Updated: August 5, 2003, 8:47 PM ET

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson linebacker Eric Sampson, who was kicked off the team "permanently" by coach Tommy Bowden in December, was reinstated Tuesday and took part in drills.

Bowden, whose official statement on Dec. 3 said Sampson was let go for "conduct unbecoming of a Clemson student-athlete," said he received new information in January that made him reconsider the linebacker's status.

"Then I wanted to turn it over to academic performance because there were some deficiencies there," Bowden said. "Pretty much those have been upheld."

Sampson says he did let his grades slide and that an argument at a Halloween party led to an incident he won't talk about -- one which Bowden says led to his December dismissal. Then a few days after he was dismissed, Sampson was charged with possession. He paid a $440 fine and went to work on his image.

"I thought, 'I got to redeem myself, and show people I'm not a bad guy," Sampson said.

He enrolled for spring semester with no guarantees he would play again. He worked out by himself, could not use the academic resources with the other athletes and checked in with Bowden at all times.

Sampson, a junior, walked onto the practice field among several players Tuesday afternoon. He said his teammates knew he made mistakes and wasn't perfect.

"I never had a problem with" them, he said. "It's a process now. I just have to work my way back up the depth chart."

Sampson, 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, started Clemson's first 12 games last season and was fourth on the team with 79 tackles.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index