South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had the play of the day on New Year’s Day in the Outback Bowl when he nearly decapitated Michigan running back Vincent Smith. The sophomore end is good enough to play in the NFL right now and should petition the league for early entry.
The NFL has a rule that says you must be three years removed from high school to be eligible for the draft, and as a true sophomore, Clowney does not fit that criteria, but if he were eligible he would easily be a top-five pick if not the first overall selection after a 14-sack season.
The last time this rule was challenged was by former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, who after his freshman season wanted to get paid and was piggy-backed in the process by USC receiver Mike Williams.
Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards en route to leading the Buckeyes to the national championship, but was suspended after he broke NCAA rules after accepting improper benefits and then making matters worse by lying to investigators claimed that the three-year rule violated anti-trust laws and hurt competition.
The league won the case and the Supreme Court rejected Clarett’s subsequent appeals and left him and Williams from being eligible for the draft until the 2005 draft. Williams ended up being the selected with 10th pick overall of the Detroit Lions while Clarett was the last pick in the third round by the Denver Broncos.
Neither of these two would amount to anything in the NFL, but Clowney would buck that trend and I firmly believe he would have double-digit sacks as a rookie in 2013 if he were granted early-entry into the draft.
I don’t expect Clowney to file a lawsuit he won’t win, and he is already on record of saying he wants to win the Heisman in 2013, and I admire him for not following in the footsteps of Clarett, who would serve jail time after his failed lawsuit against the NFL. That’s surely an understatement, isn’t it?
Clowney will most assuredly be the number one pick in the 2014 draft, but until then college football fans will have the pleasure of watching him on Saturdays before he will terrorize opposing offensive lineman on Sundays where he will sack quarterbacks with tremendous frequency.
Last year had the “suck for Luck” campaigns around NFL cities where they wanted their teams to lose in order to get Andrew Luck, and next year we can see similar campaign for Clowney, but I’m not smart enough to come up with a word that rhymes with Jadeveon.
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