We have reached the 33 day mark until we go full force with another season of college football. Most teams will take to the practice field some time in the next seven days and start preparation for what should be a fantastic year in the SEC and across the nation. Today, we’re back on the defensive side of the football and we take a look at one of the young guns in the conference, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina:
Coming out of high school, Jadeveon Clowney was the number one recruit nationally by every major recruiting service. At 6’6″ and 256 pounds, Clowney plays with speed and power. Elected as the SEC Freshman of the Year by coaches, and SEC Defensive Freshman of the Year by Rivals.com, he was credited for 36 tackles as a true freshman. Clowney also had eight sacks, which put him as the only freshman ranked in the top 10 of that category. What is so remarkable, is that Clowney only started one game in 2011 for the Gamecocks. If the sack numbers aren’t enough, he was fourth in the SEC and eighth nationally after forcing five fumbles.
This season, Clowney will team with Senior Devin Taylor to give the Gamecocks one of the best combination of defensive ends in the conference and possibly the country. Taylor started all 13 games in 2011 and finished the season with 42 tackles and six sacks. Taylor was also voted Honorable Mention All SEC by the Associated Press.
Clowney and Taylor will be called upon to lead a Gamecock defensive line that lost Melvin Ingram and Travain Robertson, who combined, logged 97 tackles and had 12.5 sacks. The 2011 Gamecock defense also finished third nationally in total defense. If losing Ingram and Robertson wasn’t enough, long time defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson left to become the head man at Southern Mississippi.