Asked on the Dan Patrick Show whether sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is ready for the NFL, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier joked this morning that Clowney "probably could have come right out of high school and gone straight to the NFL."
Clowney's already high profile was raised even more with his hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl. The hit sent Smith's helmet and the ball flying in different directions. Clowney recovered the fumble and the Gamecocks scored on the next play.
"That hit is all over the country," Spurrier said. "The TV stations down here keep showing it, and I keep reminding them that it's not the only big play we made. We made a bunch of them and were fortunate to make a big play right at the end and win the game."
NFL Draft experts say Clowney would the No. 1 pick if he were eligible to enter the draft this year.
Spurrier said Clowney is "ready for the NFL. He's got the strength and explosiveness. But he knows it's a three-year deal and he's looking forward to next season. He wants to get better and he wants the team to do better."
Asked by Patrick about the risk of injuries, Spurrier said, "We generally don't have too many injuries. Of course, it's unfortunate that Marcus (Lattimore) got hurt two years. But Jadeveon is pretty good at protecting himself, staying away from the pile and things like that."