Houston Texans owner Bob McNair shares one thing in common with his team’s newest linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, the first pick in this spring’s NFL draft.
They’re both Gamecocks.
McNair, a 1958 South Carolina graduate, maintains close ties with his alma mater through the $30 million funding of the McNair Scholars program along with his wife, Janice, a 1959 Columbia College graduate.
Clowney, of course, spent the past three years in Columbia as the talented defender for the Gamecocks before the Texans scooped up the 6-foot-5, 266-pound Rock Hill native.
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McNair is enamored of the player who many in Houston are calling J.D., just as they did in Columbia.
“He’s a terrific kid. He has a smile on his face all the time,” McNair said. “He’s humble. He’s not cocky or arrogant. He’s here to learn.”
McNair and Clowney aren’t the only Gamecocks associated with the Texans. Safety D.J. Swearinger and cornerback Johnathan Joseph play on the Houston defense.
McNair moved to Houston in 1960 and made his mark in business as the founder of Cogen Technologies, the largest privately owned cogeneration company in the world, before he sold it in 1999. He now serves as chairman of The McNair Group and brought the NFL back to Houston in 2002.
Clowney brought sparkling credentials with him to Houston after helping lead USC to three straight 11-win seasons and Top 10 rankings while compiling 47 tackles for loss, 24 sacks and nine forced fumbles in his career.
McNair, a member of the Texas Business Hall of Fame, has counseled Clowney on what he needs to do to find NFL success.
“In my early conversations with him, when he was working with (All-Pro defensive end) J.J. Watt one day, I told him, ‘You just stay in J.J. Watt’s shadow, and you’ll never have a problem,’ ” McNair said. “He said, ‘Believe me, that’s what I’m going to do.’ So, he’s been working hard.”
Clowney had surgery for a sports hernia in June, and the Texans have eased him into action in training camp. Clowney left Saturday’s practice early due to an injury to his upper right leg, which wasn’t deemed serious by the team.
McNair stated the coaching staff is pleased with Clowney’s on-field progress as well as his off-field chemistry with teammates.
“He gets along well with everyone. Everyone that has visited with him likes him. His teammates like him. He’s very personable,” McNair said. “But he’s very serious about his work and understanding that this is the NFL now.
“It’s the big time. Everyone on that field is a super athlete. You’ve got to go out every day and start early and finish late. You’ve got to do everything asked of you, and more, if you want to be successful. He’s learning that. I think he’s going to be quite successful.”