As a 6-foot-3, 205-pound tailback, Jadeveon Clowney
scored 37 touchdowns for the freshman football team at South Pointe (Rock Hill, S.C.)
. Though he also doubled at defensive end, Clowney loved carrying the pigskin.
Today, as a senior, he is the No. 1 defensive end and No. 2 overall player in the nation, according to Tom Lemming of CBS and MaxPreps. There are very few carries on his resume, so what happened?
"I grew up," replied Clowney, 6-foot-6, 251 pounds. "I wanted to be a running back, but they said I got too tall. I was upset with my coaches changing my position. I was mad, but I played anyway."
Clowney says of his high ranking, "It's pretty good knowing that I've been chosen from a lot of good players. It's not that much pressure. The coach tells me not to pay any attention."
South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll definitely did not make a mistake, because Clowney has greatly disrupted opposing offenses for the past three years and is one of the most highly-sought players in the nation. His final five college choices are Miami, Florida State, Alabama, South Carolina and LSU.
As a junior, Clowney led South Pointe with 144 tackles and 23 sacks. This year he leads the once-beaten Stallions with 76 tackles and 11.5 sacks.
"In my 28 years of coaching, he stands alone," Carroll said. "He's an absolutely phenomenal player. I knew he'd be a defensive player. I'm a defensive coach. He's an unbelievable pass rusher. He has a 36-inch vertical jump. He has 4.5 speed (for 40 yards). It's amazing, he's so dang fast. Coach Saban (Alabama's Nick Saban) talks about his motor that runs all the time. Coach Tressel (Ohio State's Jim Tressel) texted me and said he is one of the most humble kids he'd seen in a long time."
Clowney also has great strength. He has gone from power cleaning 225 pounds as a freshman to 345 pounds as a senior. The South Pointe superstar's very presence strikes fear into opposing quarterbacks, according to veteran Rock Hill Herald sports writer Barry Byers.
"When he comes on a quarterback, you can almost hear his knees knocking," Byers said. "He has the ability to bat a pass down and catch it. The only person I've seen who could jump like him is Michael Jordan. He can control the game from defensive end. He lines up slanted and is hard to block. Jadeveon just runs over people. He has the ability to run runners down from behind. The kid reminds me so much of Julius Peppers when he played at North Carolina."
Byers believes that one of the young superstar's greatest qualities is relentlessly studying the game.
"He really studies what goes on," the veteran writer noted. "He's really like a coach on the field. He makes everybody get in their places."
Carroll adds, "He understands to the 'nth degree. Whether it's Madden or checkers, he absolutely hates to lose. He's going to do anything possible to beat you. He's going to adjust and move around. He understands that geometry is part of football."
Clowney acknowledged, "We watch film every day and break it down. We watch how they line up, how they stand and move around. I make a lot of adjustments on the field. They (coaches) may get mad at me, but as long as we make the play. Maybe when it is all over, I'll go back and coach somewhere."
Because of his high profile, Clowney is a marked man in every game. He related, "I get cut-blocked, triple- and double-teamed. I never get one-on-one against me. And they throw their passes in two seconds."
Still, he has done some incredible things on the field during his three-year varsity career.
- Twice he has blocked a pass, caught it in the air and scored a touchdown.
- He has blocked a punt, caught it in the air and scored from 45 yards.
- He has scooped up fumbles and returned them for 60- and 58-yard touchdowns.
- During a playoff game last year he had 17 tackles - including four sacks and six other tackles for losses. He played less than three quarters.
And, yes, he does get to carry the ball once in a while – usually in short-yardage situations to gain a first down. Byers recalled a recent victory over Fort Mill (S.C.) during which Clowney broke loose for 20- and 16-yard touchdowns "with people falling off him like fleas. You can't tackle him. You have to have six people and every one grab a piece of his body."
Last week he rumbled for a 97-yard touchdown against Nation Ford (Fort Mill, S.C.).
And we haven’t even yet touched on his basketball ability. As a junior, he averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds, 4.5 blocks and two dunks. He once speared 21 rebounds in a single outing.
"If I was to work on it, I could (play Division I college basketball)," Clowney said confidently.
Choosing a college, Clowney said, will depend on things such as how much he can play as a freshman, the education and how he fits in to the team. Carroll and Byers both acknowledged that Clowney is receiving heavy pressure from fans of the University of South Carolina, which is located just 55 miles from his home.
"Barring any serious injury, he's going off to college and will be a first-round draft pick in the NFL," Carroll predicted. "He can be worth $40 to $50 million."
To show his young superstar's unselfish character, Carroll described a practice last year which took place on a miserably-cold, rain-soaked field.
"He said, 'Hey, Big C. If I’m fortunate to make it to the NFL, I'm going to build you an (indoor) facility, because nobody deserves to practice in these kind of conditions.' I believe he'd do it. He'd share and return the favor for sure."
It appears Carroll can "bank" on it, because Clowney says, "Yes sir, I would buy an indoor facility."