That’s the question being asked today by Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorenson who thinks Clowney is being cheated by the NFL, saying it if were any other sport he would be allowed to pursue his dream of being a professional right now rather than wait the three years after high school to be eligible for the draft.
His second reason for opting to sit out is the injury sustained by his former Gamecock teammate, Marcus Lattimore, who was a consensus first-round pick before being injured in the ninth game of the season and tore multiple knee ligaments. He declared for the draft, but won’t come anywhere close to the first round and some reports suggest he many not even get drafted at all.
Football players know the inherent risk of injury that comes with playing this game and Lattimore’s is certainly a sad tale, but one that could end up with a happy ending if he has a long career in the NFL, which is a legit possibility if not certainty.
However, the thought that Clowney should sit out for his junior season is completely and utterly ludicrous, and if he were to sit out and abandon his teammates, what would that say about his character and love for the game of football?
First, it would send a bad example that Clowney is yet another in a long line of self-indulgent, me-first, money-grubbing egomaniac’s that only cares about himself and will quit on his team the first chance he gets if it doesn’t suit his needs first.
Second, it would send ripples through college and professional football and juniors across the nation would sit out their junior seasons and sign with agents and train for the NFL combine in shorts and t-shirts on a track and in a weight room instead of developing their physical skills on the football field and enhancing their mental toughness while competing against their peers.
The better argument is that Clowney should petition for early entry to the NFL and challenge the league as others have tried to do in the past and change the eligibility requirements rather than effectively retire from college football because of fear of injury. Even if that remains a long shot it’s a better option than quitting on your team because you want to get paid.
Clowney has a lot left to prove on the collegiate level like winning the school’s first ever SEC championship and has a great case to be the first primary defensive player to win the Heisman trophy in the award’s long history.
Clowney had 13 sacks which tied for third in the nation last season and was a monster vs. Clemson when the 6-6 256-pound defensive end had 4.5 sacks in the win. His hit in the Outback Bowl was perhaps the plas of the year when he nearly decapitated Michigan running back Vincent Smith.
Sitting out is the furthest thing from the mind of Clowney and if he or any other player entertained that thought for a second, shame on him for putting himself before his team.
Thankfully, for South Carolina and college football that Clowney is not a self-indulgent egomaniac and will be on the field and wreaking havoc on opposing team’s quarterbacks and living in their backfields all season long.
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