Less than a week out from SEC media week and all the attention has already shifted from Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and what many perceived as rich kid problems to the issues of Jadeveon Clowney.
While both college stars have crossed over into the mainstream in part because of off the field antics—Manziel for his superstar lifestyle of fast cars, drinking and front row seats and Clowney for the discussion of whether he would sit out the 2013 season to save himself from injury before the draft.
However it could be argued that the South Carolina defensive end is known more for his play on the field than the Heisman trophy winner, especially after his spine-bending hit in the Outback Bowl.
It was on television every minute, everywhere. Just ask Michigan running back Vincent Smith how many times he’s seen video of his helmet popping off like a champagne cork in a victory celebration. He became the co-star to Clowney’s ESPY award winning best play (minus the recognition).
But, according to college football’s new targeting rule, his big hits could lead to big trouble.
“When you look at the play by the NFL rules of the runner vs. the tackler, I think it would be [an ejection],” said former NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira to SB Nation. “That’s where the danger lies. You take what’s perceived to be a great play and it turns into a penalty and an ejection…”
Meaning Clowney could have been kicked out of the game for a perfectly legal shot to the chest because of the sport’s quest to make things softer than the Lingerie Football League.
In any case, Clowney’s hits are about to make him big money.
The possible No. 1 pick will be locked into the new NFL rookie salary scale, but if reports of the Gamecocks’ athletic department looking into his contact with Jay Z are true, Clowney could be in for a little bit of that Robinson Cano marketing success.
For the record, it isn’t illegal for Clowney to meet with Jay Z, but it is against NCAA rules to agree—written or verbally—to sign with Roc Nation Sports while he’s still a student athlete.
So keep your eyes open for flashing diamond signs like the ones New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz was throwing up a year in advance.
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Richard Nurse is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @blackirishpr.