Jadeveon Clowney openly stated Monday he plans to start as a true freshman in 2011. Here is what he must do to make that happen:
1. Qualify academically
Much has been made about his academics in the last week, but both his former and future coaches believe that he will achieve NCAA initial eligibility this fall. Former South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll was willing to bet his paycheck that Clowney will be on the field for the Gamecocks in 2011.
2. Get stronger
Though the 6-foot-6, 255-pounder is heavy enough to play defensive end in the SEC right now, he won’t be able to toss aside college offensive tackles like he did in high school. He has a prototypical frame capable of holding another 30 pounds, and he’ll need to add bulk and strength before he arrives on campus this summer.
3. Learn the scheme
If USC plans to use him solely as a defensive end in 2011, this won’t be difficult considering he would fulfill a similar role that he did at South Pointe. However, USC coach Steve Spurrier said the coaching staff will move him around and use him in different ways, potentially making the transition more difficult.
4. Improve against the run
Clowney is already good at playing with leverage and using his hands to his advantage, but he won’t be able to power through college double-teams like he did high school triple-teams. He’ll have to learn to read blocks and understand that he won’t be able to make the spectacular play on every down.
5. Prove himself
Clowney will stand out physically from the first day he’s on campus, but it remains to be seen if he’ll fit into the USC locker room. The Gamecocks won’t hand him a starting position if they aren’t sure he can handle the responsibility. That means more than producing on the field. That also means becoming a solid teammate.