January 9, 2014

Ex-USC football star Clowney dodges Thursday’s speeding ticket trial

Former University of South Carolina football star Jadeveon Clowney is known for dodging offensive linemen.

Former University of South Carolina football star Jadeveon Clowney is known for dodging offensive linemen.

Now he’s dodged – for the time being – a hearing for a S.C. Highway Patrol speeding ticket that was set for this afternoon at 2 p.m. in Winnsboro, 20 miles north of Columbia. Clowney was clocked driving 110 mph in a 70-mph zone on Interstate 77.

“He has requested a jury trial,” Fairfield County Magistrate Paul Swearingen said Thursday morning.

Swearingen said that Clowney’s attorney, Pete Strom of Columbia, telephoned Wednesday to request a jury trial.

Such requests are routinely granted, and Swearingen okayed Strom’s request.

“(Clowney) is out of state right now, so we requested a jury trial to give us a chance to deal with it while he’s away,” Strom said.

Clowney left town Wednesday to go to Florida to attend a training session to get in shape, Strom said.

Clowney is one of the nation’s top NFL prospects in this year’s upcoming draft in May, where he may go in the top five choices and win a multi-million dollar contract.

In an interview, Strom said, “I think all of this is getting a bit overblown. We have to remember – this is a 21-year-old kid, and he’s gotten two speeding tickets.”

In addition to the Dec. 7 ticket in Fairfield County, Clowney got a speeding ticket in late December in the city of Columbia.

Clowney “has been under a microscope since he was 15 years old” and during his three years at USC, and the tickets are his only offense, Strom said.

“He hasn’t been arrested in Five Points for fighting or anything like that,” said Strom, who called Clowney “one of the politest young men I’ve ever met.”

Strom said Clowney is taking his tickets seriously and elsewhere in his life, “he is making good decisions” such as getting a top-flight professional NFL agent instead of signing on with someone who might not be as reputable.

“Two speeding tickets is not the end of the world,” Strom said. “He certainly isn’t the first young man to get a speeding ticket. There’s no question he is taking this seriously – he says, ‘Sir, thank you.’ I think his head’s in the right place, but he obviously made a poor decision driving too fast.”

Strom, 54, is a former U.S. Attorney for South Carolina, a former assistant prosecutor with the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office and the son of the late longtime SLED chief J.P. Strom.

Dec. 26, an officer from the Columbia Police Department stopped Clowney and charged him with going 84 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone.

The stop took place around 10:30 a.m. Thursday on the outskirts of Columbia’s downtown, where I-26 meets I-126, according to a traffic citation obtained by The State newspaper. The citation was released through official police channels at the paper’s request.

USC football coach Steve Spurrier took the matter in stride later that day at a press conference in Orlando, Fla., where the USC football team had gone for the Capital One Bowl game.

“I tell you, he needs to go to driving school, doesn’t he?" USC coach Steve Spurrier said later in the day during a press conference in Orlando, Fla., where the team flew Thursday afternoon to prepare for Wednesday’s Capital One Bowl game. "At least he’ll have enough money to pay for it in a week or so. Hopefully, they’ll send him (to driving school) after the bowl game."

Both of Clowney’s offenses are six-point traffic violations. If a driver gets 12 points, he can lose his license. However, police can lower the charge so a driver gets fewer points.

The day before Clowney was clocked at 110 mph in Fairfield County, a rival Clemson University star was stopped for speeding in Kershaw County, northeast of Columbia.

Unlike Clowney , Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd was issued only a warning for traveling 84 mph in a 70-mph zone along I-20.

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