The high school football career of Jadeveon Clowney, which has already reached seemingly mythical proportions and will likely grow even larger as the years pass, is almost complete.
The South Pointe defensive end has already won just about every award imaginable for a prep player. He’s also the nation’s consensus No. 1 prospect and could become the defensive savior for the college program that he ultimately chooses.
But first there is one last game to play. Clowney leads the Red against the Black in the Under Armour All-America game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Wednesday (7 p.m., ESPN). After playing in last month’s Shrine Bowl, the 6-foot-6, 255-pounder is permitted to play in one more all-star event.
Clowney was absolutely unstoppable in the Shrine Bowl despite consistent double-teams, holding penalties and playing out of his comfort zone. South Carolina used a 3-4 scheme, forcing him to play head up on the tackle. This week he’ll return to the comfort of the 4-3, which allows him to be an explosive speed rusher off the edge.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“He’s done great,” said South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll, who is coaching in the game, of Clowney’s play in practice this week. “He’s been going against that big tackle from Maryland. Some of these guys coaching with me were in the NFL or USFL and some of them are just in awe of him. They can’t believe his size and speed.
“He likes [the scheme]. It allows him to line up a little wider. His biggest assets are his speed and take off.”
Dematha (Md.) tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, who stands 6-7, 322 pounds, is considered one of the nation’s best at his position. Still, Clowney has gotten the upper hand in many of their individual battles this week, especially when he’s been able to use his speed off the edge.
Clowney is still bothered by a shoulder stinger that threatened to keep him out of the Shrine Bowl, but Carroll said the injury shouldn’t limit his effectiveness in the game. And it hasn’t kept him from beating tackles like Kouandjio with the bull rush in practice.
Clowney isn’t the only player on USC’s radar playing in an established, national all-star game this week.
South Carolina commitment Brandon Shell and target Lateek Townsend, who could end his recruitment with an in-game commitment, are both playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Saturday (Noon, NBC). Both players also helped South Carolina to a win in the Shrine Bowl.
Shell is also among the nation’s top offensive tackle prospects and could challenge for early playing time if he’s able to add strength and an understanding of the scheme this offseason. The 6-7, 290-pounder is the highest rated of the six offensive linemen USC is likely to sign next month.
Townsend is another defensive dynamo who could provide a lift to USC’s recruiting class. A consensus top-15 linebacker, the 6-2, 205 pounder is a gifted playmaker at outside linebacker. He’s likely to play that position in college due to his speed and coverage abilities.
The national all-star games like for their players to make commitments during the game, because it’s a good way to boost ratings. Townsend has planned all along to make a pledge during the game, but he might not be ready to pull the trigger.
“That’s what he’s been planning, but he told me [Tuesday] he might be wavering on that some,” Marlboro County coach Dean Boyd said. “He wants to make sure he’s making the right decision. If he feels like he needs to take another visit he will. But it’s been pretty long ride. He’s ready to settle in and decide what he’s going to do. He may wait until signing day. I just told him to do what fits him best.”