Reporting Mark Seidel
By now everyone who follows college football knows who JaDaveon Clowney is. The guy who nearly killed Michigan running back Vincent Smith on Jan. 1st in the Outback Bowl. That hit only solidified Clowney’s reputation to the masses. Clowney would have been the #1 pick in this years draft as a sophomore if he was allowed to enter. Players with his size and athleticism come along rarely. James Hurst on the other hand is not nearly as well-known outside of ACC country. The two time all ACC performer is a big-time NFL draft prospect himself. He could have left early this year after his junior season and been on an NFL roster right now. He didn’t, and now two of the best at their position will square off Thursday, August 29th in Columbia, SC. (A game that should happen every year but that’s a different story)
Coming off a season in which Hurst allowed only one sack in an offense that runs over 70 plays a game is impressive in itself. Throw in the fact he graded out at over 90% for the season and you have a young man looking to make a big splash in his final season. He arrived in Chapel Hill via Indiana with a five-star rating and a heap of expectations. In the starting line-up since his freshman season Hurst has not disappointed. With potential to be a first round draft pick, Hurst will be looking to keep the nations best defender in check. Something it seems no one has been able to do.
Clowney had 13 sacks last year and that number doesn’t do him justice. He is routinely in on plays and never takes a play off. He is 6’6 275 lbs and can run down a running back from behind. He has the best first step in college and is so fast off the ball he has over-run plays simply by being too quick. His rare combination of size and speed is what NFL GM’s dream about at night. Barring injury he will be the #1 pick in next years draft. Clowney came to South Carolina as the #1 player in his class regardless of position and has improved his game every year so far. It’s actually kind of hard to imagine him getting better but he does.
I am as excited for this match-up as I am for the game it-self. This is James Hurst’s chance to show the nation what he can do and Clowney’s chance to continue his dominance of everyone put in front of him. If Carolina wants to go down to Columbia and beat the Gamecocks, Hurst will have to keep Bryn Renner’s blind side safe. If he can’t, it’s going to be a long night for the Tar Heels down in Williams-Brice Stadium.