Clowney a constant in Heisman talk

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7)
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) jblake@thestate.com

USC defensive end Jadeveon Clowney continues to receive prominent mention in preseason Heisman Trophy speculation.

NFL Network draft guru Gil Brandt has Clowney fifth on his list of preseason Heisman candidates.

Brandt picks Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron as the frontrunner, followed by three other quarterbacks -- Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.

Meanwhile, SI.com’s Stewart Mandel says of Clowney’s Heisman chances: “. . . it will be interesting to follow Clowney's candidacy in 2013. No defensive player in recent memory has entered a season with this much buzz, due in large part to the hype that's surrounded him since he was a recruit and which exploded following his epic Outback Bowl hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith.

“Like the past four winners, he'll need to produce on the field, which in his case likely means matching or exceeding last year's total of 13 sacks. South Carolina will also need to be an SEC title contender or else he'll fall out of the spotlight. More likely, though, a new and unexpected flavor of the month will emerge and capture the nation's attention. Yes, he'll have to earn it on the field -- but having a catchy nickname (like Johnny Football) or moving backstory (like Manti Te’o) won't hurt.”