NFL and college football hall of famer Ted Hendricks says South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney has the potential to be one of the greatest defensive ends in history – college or pro.
At The State’s request, Hendricks compiled his list of the top 10 defensive ends of all time, and while Clowney, a junior, is not on it just yet, he could be before he ever plays a down of pro football.
“He’s got that potential, OK?” Hendricks said. “Sure does. We may see him on it next year.”
Clowney won the Hendricks Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding defensive end, last season as a sophomore and is a candidate this year to repeat. Clowney also is projcted to be a contender for the Heisman Trophy and has put himself in position to be the No. 1 choice in next year’s NFL draft.
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“It just doesn’t look like anybody can block him,” Hendricks said. “He’s got the height, the speed and agility to play the position. He has things you can’t teach.
“Everything he needs to improve on will simply come with experience and repetitions.”
Hendricks had a 15-year career as an outside linebacker in the NFL, but he played defensive end at Miami, where he was a three-time All-American.
The award in his honor has been presented annually since 2002. Clowney has the chance to be the first two-time winner since Georgia’s David Pollack (2003-04).
Hendricks said he still stays in touch with most of the previous award winners, including Clowney.
“I hope the best for him, that he stays healthy and has longevity,” Hendricks said. “I check on him occasionally, especially to see how his grades are going.”
Hendricks said there are certain attributes that make up the ideal defensive end.
“Physically, you’ve got to have long arms because those offensive linemen hold so much,” he said. “Speed is always important. And it helps to have a mean streak in you.”
Hendricks said he developed guidelines for compiling his list of the greatest of all time.
“All the guys had certain similarities,” he said. “They were all-around players. They weren’t just pass rushers. Another thing, they got to the ball. They forced fumbles, recovered fumbles. And they had longevity.”
TED’S TOP 10
Ted Hendricks’ best defensive ends of all time. He says Jadeveon Clowney will soon be on this list.
1. Reggie White – Simply the best of the best.
2. Gino Marchetti – A great all-around athlete. Had to be constantly double teamed.
3. Deacon Jones – A big pass rusher who liked to use that head slap, which of course is now illegal.
4. Bruce Smith – An all-around player, but a great pass rusher and No. 1 in sacks.
5. Doug Atkins – He was a high hurdler in college. Another guy who had to be double teamed.
6. Claude Humphrey – The Falcons didn’t win many games, but he was a force. Maybe the best Falcon ever.
7. Andy Robustelli – A stalwart against the run. He was just tough.
8. Howie Long – He had a long, solid career and was versatile.
9. Chris Doleman – He forced and recovered 24 fumbles and was a great pass rusher.
10. Julius Peppers – A great attacker and just an absolute force to deal with.