COLUMBIA — When the Football Writers Association of America releases its All-America team in the coming days, South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney could accomplish something that nobody in school history has ever done. He could become a unanimous All-American.
Clowney, on Tuesday, was named a first-team All-American by The Associated Press, which is one of the five primary All-America teams. The other four are chosen by the Sporting News, Walter Camp Football Foundation, American Football Coaches Association and Football Writers Association of America.
The AP honor meant Clowney has been named to the first team by four of the five, with only the writers association’s team yet to be announced. So he’s USC’s fourth consensus All-American, joining running back George Rogers (1980), offensive lineman Del Wilkes (1984) and defensive end Melvin Ingram (2011).
If the writers association names Clowney a first-teamer, he’ll be a unanimous All-American – an honor he can add to a 2012 season that already includes the school’s single-season records for sacks (13) and tackles for loss (21½). His 4½ sacks against Clemson were a single-game school record, surpassing Melvin Ingram’s 3½ in 2011 against Auburn.
Clowney also joined Rogers as the only USC players to win a national individual award, when he won the Hendricks Award, given to college football’s best defensive end. Rogers won the Heisman Trophy in 1980.
Clowney is USC’s fifth first-team All-American under eighth-year coach Steve Spurrier, along with safety Ko Simpson (2005), defensive end Eric Norwood (2009), wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (2010) and Ingram.
Before Simpson, USC had just two first-team All-Americans since receiver Sterling Sharpe in 1987: cornerback Sheldon Brown in 2000 and defensive end/linebacker Kalimba Edwards in 2001.
Clowney has also been named a first-team All-American by ESPN.com and CBSSports.com. He was a finalist for the Nagurski, Bednarik and Lombardi awards. The first two are defensive player of the year awards. The Lombardi goes to the best offensive or defensive lineman, or linebacker.
Clowney can’t turn pro yet because he’s not three years out of high school. He’s widely expected to be the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Tuesday that Clowney would be the first pick in 2013 if he could turn pro.
“He’s a spectacular player,” Kiper said. “That’s why you look at him and say, boy, it’s not a stretch, it’s not exaggerating or overstating to say he would have been the No. 1 pick probably if you think about as a freshman. I won’t go there, but certainly this year. If he were in this draft, he would be the guaranteed No. 1 pick overall.”
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