HOOVER, Ala. — South Carolina defensive end and Heisman Trophy hopeful Jadeveon Clowney said he’s getting more and more comfortable speaking with the media, and it showed on Tuesday when he said Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and three SEC quarterbacks were “scared” to face him and the Gamecocks defensive line.
The 2013 season unofficially opened with SEC media days Tuesday, and the sport’s most dominant conference did what it does best — it beat up everybody else, writes Mark Schlabach. Story
“I can tell Tajh Boyd is scared back there,” Clowney said. “He ain’t no sitting duck, but you can see in his eyes that he’s scared of our D-linemen.”
Clowney recorded a career-high 4.5 sacks in the regular-season finale against rival Clemson last season as the Gamecocks beat the Tigers 27-17 in Death Valley. Boyd threw two interceptions and was sacked six times in the game.
“We know that coming into the game that we have him shook already,” Clowney explained. “We get a couple hits on him and it changes the whole game. He’s scared every time we play them. I know he’s probably listening to this right now, but I’m just telling the truth, man.”
Clowney, who is a member of both the Lombardi and Bronko Nagurski watch lists this season, said he doesn’t taunt other players on the field other than to say, “Block me.” But the 6-foot-6, 247-pound athlete knows fear when he sees it in an opponent’s eyes. He said he saw it in Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, former Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson and a third SEC quarterback he didn’t name.
“You can look at a guy and tell that he’s scared,” Clowney said. “If he’s staring at me before the ball is snapped and he’s staring at me every play before the ball is snapped, oh we got him. I tell the players that he’s shook.”
A likely top pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Clowney finished with 54 tackles in 2012, including a South Carolina record 23.5 for loss. The consensus All-American had 13 sacks on his way to being named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Clowney also said Tuesday he ran a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash.
Equally important to coach Steve Spurrier: Clowney has avoided some of the pratfalls of that fame. He hasn’t made headlines for off-the-field troubles, unlike some of his peers.
“Jadeveon has done an excellent job staying out of the limelight all summer,” Spurrier said at Southeastern Conference media days. “He’s been a good teammate.
“He’s been there for the workouts. He’s been there doing what he’s supposed to do.”
Clowney, who was sixth in the Heisman voting as a sophomore, shrugs off talk of being the rare defensive player to win the coveted prize this season. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o finished second last season.
“That’s not really a goal for me,” said Clowney, whose table drew easily the biggest crowd of the day. “A goal for me is winning the SEC. That’s our biggest goal right now.”
He won the Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end and joined George Rogers as the Gamecocks’ only unanimous All-Americans. Clowney has 21 sacks, 35.5 tackles for loss and eight forced fumbles in 13 career starts.
He also has The Hit.
Clowney, the SEC defensive player of the year, made one of last season’s signature plays. His hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith drew millions of YouTube views after he knocked the runner on his back with a helmet-toppling smack, then reached out with one hand to snare the ball.
SEC quarterbacks took notice. So did much of college football.
“Have I seen it? Wasn’t it like the top play [on ESPN] for a couple of weeks?” Missouri quarterback James Franklin said. “Yes, sir. It was crazy just when he hit him and he has really long arms so when he reached out and picked the ball up, I thought he was about to run it back for a touchdown.”
Clowney had 1.5 sacks against the Tigers last season.
He had one against Florida, too. Gators coach Will Muschamp, a former defensive coordinator, has a preference over seeing a player from that side of the ball winning the Heisman.
“I’d like to see him come out early [for the NFL] before our game,” Muschamp said. “He’s an outstanding player. He’s a guy you better account for every snap. He’s an explosive guy.”
And he is definitely a defensive player. Not a two-way guy like Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson, who won the 1997 Heisman.
Spurrier was asked if there was a chance that Clowney could play on offense. His deadpan response: “Not really. We got a bunch of offensive players that are pretty good.”
Clowney said he had a quiet summer of keeping things simple and hanging out with his group of friends from high school.
His recent training table didn’t feature steak and potatoes but an old favorite after getting down to about 256 pounds.
“I picked up six pounds in two days the other day, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all day,” Clowney said. “It was killing my throat. I had to drink a lot of water, but I ate like six peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and dinner.”
Next on the menu, he hopes: Opposing quarterbacks.
- Clowney downplays Heisman; says others ‘scared’ (cbssports.com)
- Clowney: SEC QBs are ‘scared’ to face him (espn.go.com)
- DE Clowney says some college QBs are “scared” (tracking.si.com)
- SEC Media Days 2013: Jadeveon Clowney Thinks He Can Get Johnny Manziel (bleacherreport.com)
- Spurrier: Clowney Races To 4.4 40 This Summer (detroit.cbslocal.com)
- Gamecocks’ Jadeveon Clowney says several college quarterbacks are ‘scared’ (tracking.si.com)
- Jadeveon Clowney names QBs who are ‘scared’ of him (collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Jadeveon Clowney says Tajh Boyd, Aaron Murray, Tyler Wilson are afraid of him (sbnation.com)
- Steve Spurrier Was Told Jadeveon Clowney Recently Ran Sub 4.5 40 Yard Dash (bleacherreport.com)
- Steve Spurrier: Jadeveon Clowney ran a 4.4 40 this summer (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)