In a week’s span, star South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney has gone from being accused of quitting on his team to perhaps returning to the lineup this weekend.
Gamecocks defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said Thursday that Clowney would start at Arkansas this week “if he’s healthy.” Ward also noted that the future top-5 NFL Draft pick has practiced each of the past two days.
Clowney’s absence in the Kentucky game combined with coach Steve Spurrier’s reaction created a significant story in the college football world this week.
Spurrier didn’t seem to have any problem with Clowney (ribs) sitting out, but rather when the junior ruled himself out of the conference game. Rather than someone on the South Carolina medical staff informing the coaches that Clowney couldn’t play, the star told his coaches approximately 2 hours before kickoff that he couldn’t go.
The lateness of Clowney informing the coaches didn’t sit well with The Ol’ Ball Coach.
“If he wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants,” Spurrier said following his team’s 35-28 win over Kentucky.
A media firestorm ensued, with many siding with the idea that Clowney shouldn’t risk injury and possibly damage his professional future.
Clowney said Tuesday that he was committed to the Gamecocks and intended to return when able.
Clowney’s production has dipped this year. Through five games, he has just 3 TFLs and 2 sacks. Still, his raw talent and skill set makes him a virtual lock – barring injury – to become a high-pick NFL Draft pick next April.
South Carolina plays at Arkansas on Saturday with kickoff coming at 12:21 p.m., EST.