To play or not to play, Clowney’s decision

  • Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 11:31 p.m.

Contrary to tumultuous buzz, there is zero evidence the Jadeveon Clowney camp has considered sitting out the 2013 season (and not much evidence that Clowney actually has a camp).

“I’m playing lol,” Clowney said via Twitter.

It’s the hottest debate of a cold college football winter: Should Clowney save his health for the 2014 draft, sue his way into the 2013 draft or none of the above?

Steve Spurrier and Marcus Lattimore have weighed in. The Head Ball Coach predicts Clowney won’t quit on his team. Asked about Clowney, Lattimore said he doesn’t regret playing at South Carolina as a junior, wrecked knee and all.

Todd McShay, who says Clowney would be the No. 1 pick if eligible for the 2013 draft, has played the “Should Clowney sit out?” game with fellow ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.

It’s a silly season but a serious issue.

Paradox garnet

Clowney, a 6-foot-6, 256-pound defensive end from Rock Hill, projects as more of the same this fall: a ferocious pass rusher good enough to compete for the Heisman Trophy and change games.

Or, he can change the way major college football programs compensate players.

If Clowney skips his junior year to protect his body and financial interests going into the 2014 NFL Draft, college football – led by the Southeastern Conference – will have some kind of stipend system in place quicker than a Tuscaloosa to Baton Rouge charter flight in nice weather.

Clowney’s at once college football’s most reliable in-game force and uniquely positioned to expose a potentially game-changing flaw. He’s ready for the NFL, but confined to college football by rules that require three years of post-high school seasoning.

Baseball players can sign pro contracts right out of high school. Basketball players can bolt after a “one and done” college experience.

Clowney is man, myth and money machine for Gamecocks, Inc., a subsidiary of a college football biz in which adults make money and NFL-bound stars get a free education they might use. Spurrier, dressed here in paradox garnet, has advocated paying players “for the billions they’re bringing (into college football).”

Counselor’s advice

Logic says Clowney shouldn’t play for South Carolina this season. Common sense says he will.

Clowney certainly makes college football more fun and interesting – can’t wait to see all the new-fangled blocking schemes this fall.

But imagine Clowney meeting with a career counselor at South Carolina. Once the ambitious young man explains that a $25 million job offer is guaranteed as long as he makes it 14 more months without getting hurt, it’s hard to see the counselor saying, “You know, Jadeveon, what you’ll probably want to do in the meantime is engage in a series of extremely violent collisions with some really big and fast guys from Tennessee and Florida over several months of avoiding those nasty double-team blocks that almost cut short your season last year.”

Clowney, while sacking more college quarterbacks, can serve as a warning shot across the bow of a fragile amateur concept.

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