Clowney: Committed To Playing For South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Injured South Carolina All-American Jadeveon Clowney made it clear Tuesday that he plans to play a lot more college football before moving on to the NFL.
The 6-foot-6, 274-pound defensive end said Tuesday that he’s receiving treatment several times a day on the strained muscle near his rib cage so he might return in time to face Arkansas on Saturday.
“Am I fully committed? Always,” Clowney said. “I could’ve sat out. I’m not looking to sit out. I’m not that type of guy. I’m here for the team.”
He wasn’t there for them Saturday, raising questioning about his commitment to the 14th-ranked Gamecocks.
Clowney said before Saturday’s game against Kentucky that he couldn’t go, saying he was in too much pain to play. The Gamecocks beat Kentucky 35-28 without him.
A noticeably upset Spurrier said after the game if Clowney didn’t want to play he didn’t have to, and the program would move on. The coach mellowed his tone some Sunday, saying he was frustrated that proper injury protocol — Clowney telling trainers or medical staff and that information being forwarded to the coaches — was not followed.
“Obviously, we all handled it poorly. All of us did,” Spurrier said earlier Tuesday.
Spurrier went on to defend his reigning Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year, reminding Clowney’s critics that even he never plays again for South Carolina how valuable he has been to the program’s recent rise.
“Let me say this about Jadeveon, if he never plays another snap, we all should be thankful and appreciative that he came to South Carolina,” Spurrier said. “We’ve won 26 games, two 11-2 years, the greatest seasons we’ve had in 120 years.
“So none of us need to be upset at Jadeveon. None of us.”
Clowney assured fans he hadn’t played his final game at South Carolina (4-1, 2-1 SEC).
“When I get back healthy, I’m going to play and do my job and take care of business on the field,” he said.
It’s still uncertain when that will happen. Clowney said he felt the pain in his chest early last week and trainers brushed it off as the typical bumps and bruises that come with football.
Clowney said things grew worse last Wednesday and he missed the following day’s practice to get ready for Kentucky. He knew on Saturday, though, he couldn’t make fast cuts or run without pain and opted to sit out.
He said he wasn’t upset about Spurrier’s angry postgame comments.
“He’s really competitive,” Clowney said. “He was just saying stuff. It’s all right.”
If Clowney can’t play against the Razorbacks (3-3, 0-2), he said he’ll be on the sidelines cheering his teammates.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema hopes Clowney’s ready to go.
“As is the case any time that you’re in this type of situation, I’m sure he’s going to play, Bielema said. “I think it’s competitive nature. It’s kind of like when we were getting ready to play A&M. At the beginning of this season, people were taking about him (Manziel) being suspended or not.”
Still, it has not been the season expected out of the SEC’s reigning defensive player of the year.
Clowney has just two sacks and 12 tackles. After setting a school mark of 23 ½ tackles for loss last season, Clowney’s got just three stops behind the line of scrimmage this year.
He was one of the most talked about player in college football after finishing last season with his helmet-popping hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl.
Some analysts projected that Clowney would have been the top pick in last year’s NFL draft as a sophomore, prompting talk he should sit out this year instead of risking on field injury. Clowney eventually purchased $5 million worth of NCAA-allowed insurance.
Clowney spent a summer in the spotlight. “The Hit” won the ESPY Award for best play while Clowney met with LeBron James and other celebrities.
Feeling the demands and attention were getting out of control, Spurrier cut off access to Clowney once fall camp began. Five games into the season, the distractions have continued to surface but Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw said the latest situation has not created a problem in the locker room.
“All I know is Clowney’s helped us win a lot of games,” Shaw said. “It’s more of a big deal to everyone else instead of us.”
AP Sports Writer Kurt Voigt contributed to this story from Fayetteville, Ark.
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