South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney provided his latest highlight-reel moment Saturday when he hurdled a Georgia blocker en route to applying pressure on Aaron Murray off the edge.
Back home, Clowney’s mother kept pressing rewind.
“You were kind of high,” Clowney, speaking with reporters after Tuesday’s practice, recalled his mother telling him.
The stock of her son is much the same these days.
No name in the Southeastern Conference evokes more terror than the one public-address announcers reference after so many sacks by the Gamecocks defense.
Jadeveon Clowney comes off the corner as a blur of bigness camouflaged by a quarterback’s jersey number. Built like a SEC power forward, he moves like a running back.
Then there’s that name, seemingly one of a kind.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger surely hopes fans at Tiger Stadium won’t hear it too much Saturday when the ninth-ranked Tigers welcome No. 3 South Carolina for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
“We’re going to go out there and do what we have to do,” Clowney, a 6-foot-6, 256-pound sophomore, said. “It’s another SEC game. I want to do my part.”
Clowney might be only part of the problem for LSU’s depleted offensive line, which has surrendered 15 sacks through six games.
No team is better at getting to the quarterback than the Gamecocks, who have registered an SEC-best 22 sacks — five more than Ole Miss and Texas A&M, who rank second with 17 apiece.
But it starts with the big recruit with the catchy name and the signature dreads.
Clowney ranks third in the SEC with 61/2 sacks and second in the league with 13 tackles for loss. He had four tackles, one sack and two tackles for losses in the victory over Georgia.
None of the recruiting gurus who graded the erstwhile five-star prospect would have expected anything less.
But a quick look at Clowney’s stats from his senior year at South Pointe High in Rock Hill, S.C., leave little wonder why he was the consensus No. 1 player in the 2011 recruiting class.
As a senior, Clowney racked up 162 tackles with 291/2 sacks, forced 11 fumbles, recovered six fumbles and scored five defensive touchdowns.
South Pointe finished 13-2, losing in the Class 3A state championship game.
Clowney chose South Carolina over Alabama and Clemson, becoming the state’s third straight highly touted “Mr. Football” to sign with the Gamecocks.
Stephon Gilmore signed with South Carolina in 2009 and went on to become the No. 10 pick in the NFL draft. Lattimore signed in 2010 and has started at running back ever since.
“I said I just wanted to go in there and help them win,” Clowney said. “They were a program on the rise, and I just wanted to be part of that.”
After making eight sacks his freshman year, Clowney is one of the biggest reasons — in every sense imaginable — for South Carolina’s recent surge up the national rankings.
Some have even suggested he be mentioned as a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate.
Clearly, the high-flying defensive end is a man on the rise.
Even when not hurdling would-be blockers.
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