South Pointe principal Al Leonard is ready for Feb. 14 as much as anybody else.
That’s the day that the world will learn where Stallions standout Jadeveon Clowney will play college football.
“I’m just like anybody else,” he said. “I’m just anxiously waiting for his decision. He’s kept it to himself. He’s trying to enjoy the ride and pin it down. There are few places I can go where people don’t ask me.”
The question, of course, is where will Clowney continue his career? It’s a question that Clowney estimates he’s answered at least 1,000 times over the last year. He still doesn’t have an answer.
Leonard hasn’t been able to escape the limelight either. A grandmother asked him in church this week if he knew where Clowney was going. At a gathering of principals this week, an elementary school leader also asked him which way Clowney was leaning.
It’s the inescapable question but not one that Leonard and Co. are tired of fielding.
“It’s been a great experience,” Leonard said. “It’s been fun. It really has been.”
Leonard is a graduate of USC, but he said he hasn’t pushed Clowney in that direction. Even with South Pointe alums DeVonte Holloman and Stephon Gilmore, who both eventually chose USC, Leonard said he made it clear to them that he would help in their decisions in any way he could but he wasn’t going to push them toward Columbia.
“The conversations I’ve had with Clowney were basically, 'Do what’s best for you and keep your head on straight',” Leonard said. “I’ll give him instances of people that made bad decisions, but I talk to him like I’d talk to any student.”
Leonard said it’s unfair that some USC fans have taken aim at former South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll, who recently took the head coaching position at York and has played the central role in Clowney’s recruitment. Some believe he’s pushing Clowney to attend Alabama, but that’s not the case, Leonard said.
“Unfair is the right word,” Leonard said. “He’s just stepped in and helped the parents get him where he needs to be. I know that he’s not pushing one particular school. He’s a Winthrop graduate. He’ll get it from Clemson folks, South Carolina folks and Alabama folks, but I know that’s not the case.”
USC fans had similar complaints about Manning coach Robbie Briggs last year after standout corner John Fulton chose Alabama. Now it appears the Gamecocks are the frontrunner to land Manning defensive tackle Phillip Dukes.