ROCK HILL | It’s been more than a month since Jadeveon Clowney unveiled his plans to the college football world.
During that time he’s actually gotten a taste of what life is like for the vast majority of high school seniors. No interviews. No college visits. No questions. Compared to the life he lived from August to February, it’s almost as if he’s found a semblance of normalcy.
“It’s pretty fun,” Clowney said with a smile this week. “I’ve got a calm life now. It’s a lot better. [I’ve been] having fun, hanging out with my friends and family.
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“It’s calmed down some, but people in Rock Hill still act like [it’s a big deal].”
Clowney sometimes seems to forget that, at least in this state, he is still a very big deal. All the pressures that he survived as a high school senior will start manifesting again in a few months and will grow as he moves closer to his debut for the Gamecocks.
But for now, he’s only worried about finishing strong academically at South Pointe and getting stronger in the weight room. His described his academics as “pretty good” this semester – he said one class was giving him trouble – and said he still fully expects to qualify academically.
Clowney admittedly needs to gain weight in the coming months. He’s been widely listed as weighing 250-plus pounds throughout his recruitment, but the 6-foot-6 specimen was 248 earlier this week after adding some weight in the last few weeks. His goal is to get “bigger, faster and stronger” this spring.
“I’ve got to outwork people to get where I want to be,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to do. I’ll get to whatever [weight] they want me to get to as long as I keep my speed.”
Clowney hasn’t heard too much negative feedback from Clemson or Alabama fans in the wake of his decision to join the Gamecocks. In fact, the small amount of criticism he has taken was from Crimson Tide fans, who were upset with comments he allegedly made to a FOX writer criticism coach Nick Saban.
In this story, Clowney was quoted as saying. “I don’t see no big deal like everybody else. They’d say, ‘He’s the king of all of football.’ The guy ain’t nothing but 5-5. He’s a short guy. Everybody’s going crazy on Nick Saban.”
Clowney claims he didn’t criticize Saban at all and will be much more careful before giving any lengthy interviews in the future.
“I know most of that was a lie from what he put on there,” he said. “All of it was a lie. Some people are going to do that. Some people lie. You just have to go with it. You just have to go with it. It happened. I don’t remember saying anything about anybody. He turned a good thing and then flipped it on me.
“They are excited,” he added of fans’ reactions to his decision. “Even people that I didn’t go to their schools are excited. Clemson fans are still excited. They’ll say, ‘You should have went to Clemson, but I’m happy for you since you stayed [instate].’ ”
Clowney is already looking forward to his first opportunity to step on the field against the Tigers. He understands that experience isn’t that far off, and the anxiety is killing him.
“I’ve been waiting,” he said of football season. “I’m ready now. I’ve been waiting on football so long I started watching highlights of myself again. I was ready for it to end, and now I’m ready for it to start back. I can’t get enough of it.”