Jadeveon Clowney will play for South Carolina in 2013, he said Thursday, putting to rest an issue that was never an issue in his mind.
“Sitting out? No, never thought of it,” the junior defensive end said after the Gamecocks finished their second spring practice. “I used to play around with the boys, like, ‘If I break the sack record, I am going to sit out,’ but I was just playing around. I am going to go to school and play.”
Clowney’s future has been a hot topic as sports pundits debated the sense of a player who is expected to be drafted No. 1 overall in the 2014 NFL draft risking injury for another year of amateur football. Clowney himself had not addressed the topic until this week.
“I was surprised (by the talk), like, ‘Why have they brought me up out of everybody else?’ ” he said. “Then the guys started calling saying, ‘You know they are talking about you, don’t you?’ I was like, ‘No, what are they saying?’ ‘That you should sit out.’ I was like, ‘Y’all know I ain’t doing that.’ I didn’t pay it any more attention after all of that.”
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Clowney, 6-foot-6, 273 pounds, has seen his fame explode since the Outback Bowl, when he delivered “The Hit” on Michigan running back Vincent Smith. He appeared on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated in February.
“I am just going to keep playing like I have been playing, 100 percent and try to go out there and do better, and try to do better than I did last year,” he said.
Clowney set South Carolina’s single-season record with 13 sacks last season, and he said Thursday he thinks he can challenge the NCAA record of 27 this year. That mark was set in 1988 by former Alabama star Derrick Thomas, whose name Clowney didn’t recognize, he said.
“I know what to expect out of every play (this year),” Clowney said. “I know what it’s going to be like so I expect this year to be better than last year. More sacks, just try to lead my team to more wins, really.”
Clowney has purchased an insurance policy to guard himself against injury, he said. He is covered for $5 million through a policy he purchased through the University of South Carolina, he said. In December, Clowney said he did not plan to purchase an insurance policy, but he has grown accustomed to the fact that is life is changing, he said Thursday. That includes his privacy.
“Where I am staying out right now is probably the most guarded place (in Columbia),” he said. “It’s pretty tight over there.”