South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has made it quite clear that he never seriously entertained the possibilities of sitting out the 2013 season, despite already being considered the No. 1 prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. But, that doesn’t mean the talented junior pass-rusher isn’t thinking about protecting himself against catastrophic injury like the one suffered last season by teammate Marcus Lattimore.
Clowney took out a $5 million insurance policy this offseason under the NCAA’s “Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Program”, which allows athletes to finance an insurance plan to protect future earnings.
Clowney would have been the consensus No. 1 pick in this year’s draft had he been eligible, but the NFL forbids a second-year player from entering the NFL Draft. The rule has affected athletes in the past, even causing former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett and USC wide receiver Mike Williams to take a lawsuit to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The rule was ultimately upheld by current Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and the rule now goes without contention. However, Jadeveon Clowney’s utter dominance of college football’s best conference caused a national backlash and many prognosticators suggested that Clowney sit out the season to protest the rule and protect his future draft status.
The idea was even supported by several friends and family who voiced their concerns to Clowney in a wave of text messages. But, eventually he took to his Twitter account to downplay the rampant rumors.
I’m playing lol
— jadeveon clowney 7(@clownejd) February 12, 2013
Steve Spurrier also downplayed the rumors when the Head Ball Coach told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that if money was Clowney’s only concern, “He might not get into a car before next year’s draft, so he wouldn’t be in a car wreck and get injured. He would be just very, very careful for a year not to have any kind of injury.”
However, all joking aside, having witnessed former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore’s stomach-turning knee injury last season against Tennessee that will presumably cost the former top prospect millions in this year’s NFL Draft, it would be crazy for Clowney not to have contingency plans in place. That’s why he took out the insurance policy.
Clowney took out the maximum amount of coverage allowed by the NCAA, which would cover up to $5 million in future earnings loss. The polices are expensive, costing upwards of $30,000 for a single year plan, but the NCAA program allows “exceptional” student-athletes to finance such a policy by taking out a loan that has to be repaid after signing a professional contract.
As a likely No. 1 draft pick, Clowney stands to make over $20 million in guaranteed money after next year’s draft and could stand to see his career earnings eclipse nine figures. However, don’t expect to see the superstar edge-rusher play tentatively to protect himself.
In his first two seasons playing for the Gamecocks, Jadeveon Clowney has earned a feared reputation by playing at a frenetic pace with complete abandon. The incoming junior is a physical freak, having put on 20 pounds this offseason–he now stand 6-6 and weighs in at 274 pound–yet still running a 4.54 40-yard dash during offseason workouts.
That combination of sheer power and athleticism has made Clowney the top defensive end prospect of this generation, and even has the South Carolina native poised at a run for a Heisman Trophy in 2013. The Gamecocks have already launched an aggressive campaign centering on Jadeveon’s vicious hit during last year’s Outback Bowl on Michigan’s Vincent Smith.
Clowney went unaccounted for because of a miscommunication at the line of scrimmage and arrived unimpeded to the football at the same time Smith did. What resulted was undoubtedly the play of the year in college football and has now been the top play on SportsCenter for over two months.
However, that hit and all the hilarious gifs/videos it inspired was really the culmination of a phenomenal season for the nation’s most talented defensive player. Clowney was the No. 1 recruit in the country coming out of high school and followed up an SEC Freshman of the Year campaign in 2011 with a dominant season from start to finish in 2012.
Now Jadeveon Clowney hopes to parlay that into an even better season in 2013, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks that he won’t. But, just in case the unthinkable happens, it’s good to know that his future is assured.