Let's Not Jump Off The Jadeveon Clowney Bandwagon Just Yet
And it was probably premature to declare that he is the best defensive prospect in the past 10 years (even though it's hard to argue that he's not).
It was probably unrealistic to think that he was going to have a chance to decapitate every running back that dared venture his way (even though ESPN would have liked you to believe it was going to be standard operating practice for Clowney and the Gamecocks, which just so happen to be part of the ESPN SEC-TV package).
So it's understood that many are disappointed in his early season performances. Honestly, they're probably not as disappointed as he is.
But allow me let you in on a few secrets.
First and foremost, he was never going to win the Heisman. Yeah, he plays in the SEC and they pretty much get the benefit of every doubt, but he's a defensive player. Defensive players don't win that award. Period. Yeah, yeah, I know. "But Charles Woodson won it." I don't even have enough time to explain the ways that Woodson didn't deserve the award, nor did he win it for his defensive exploits alone.
Yeah, Clowney could line up at fullback or tight end (he was also a wide receiver in high school – yes, a wide receiver) – but he won’t just to chase an award.
As Clowney and the Gamecocks have experienced in their first two games, teams are not going to challenge him. They’re going to run away from him (cough, cough…..TarHeels). When they do go to his side, it’s going to be with quick passes while he’s engaged with the tackle – no five step drops or roll outs to his side. Additionally, teams are going to take cheap shots at him (cough, cough…..Tar Heels). So either he’s being avoided or assaulted. Either way, stats are going to be hard to come by.
Second: There’s no way he could have ever lived up to the ESPN hype. I’ve heard lots of people say “He was just one good hit against Michigan and nothing more.” To those people I say, “You really believe that? Gee, tell me more about your outstanding knowledge of football!” and then I pretty much walk away from them.
Yeah, that was a great hit, but anyone who has followed college football knows that Clowney is more than just that hit. He’s the sum of a lot of hits. Of course, the last one nearly took a dude’s head off, so you’ve gotta respect that. What you don’t have to respect is how ESPN turned that hit into its own little Heisman campaign. They rode that hit from January 1 until the Gamecocks opened the NCAA season (on ESPN) on August 29. It was a good run, but it’s time to retire the hit – and the hype.