It wasn’t a surprise when Jadeveon Clowney was on the cover of my Sports Illustrated college football preview. I had known that was going to happen two days earlier, when the magazine released the links to its six regional covers.
The hype continues to build around Clowney, which is great publicity for the program, and (I think) a great thing for Clowney. He plays his best when he’s goaded to perform at his absolute best, and all this hype can only serve to do that.
But I also realize how great this is going to be for the Gamecocks’ other defensive end, Chaz Sutton. He’s been held out of the past week of practice with a foot sprain, but it shouldn’t be anything that will keep him from playing. He’s going to be the guy who will benefit the most from Clowney’s hype outside of Clowney himself.
Clowney will draw all the attention from opposing offenses. That leaves Sutton, who had seven tackles for loss and five sacks last year — and set a school record with a 375-pound power clean over the offseason — to clean up.
A guy such as Sutton probably wouldn’t have a chance at the NFL if he was playing in any other year. Now, he’s got a chance for a monster season and a draft spot.
Call it the Melvin Ingram Plan.