The controversy surrounding Jadeveon Clowney, the standout defensive end for the South Carolina Gamecocks, could turn out to be something significant. Or, it could just be smoke with absolutely no fire.
Clowney declared himself unable to play in Saturday’s 35-28 win over the Kentucky Wildcats. Clowney did not dress for the game. He wore his jersey with no pads and talked with his teammates on the sideline, as the Gamecocks built an early lead then held off a feisty, young Kentucky team in the end. His toughness and dedication to the team were openly questioned after the game.
If Clowney was injured and unable to play, which is what he told head coach Steve Spurrier, then by all means, he should have stayed on the sidelines for the game against perhaps the worst team in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina figured to have an easy time with Kentucky, which they did for three quarters, so this was the perfect time for Clowney to take a week off to heal, before the games get harder.
The belief here is that if South Carolina had been facing the Florida Gators or the Georgia Bulldogs, or an opponent of that magnitude, Clowney would have fought through the pain to play. But since it was Kentucky, he decided to heal on Saturday and to prepare for tougher opponents down the line.
Clowney’s junior season has not gone as he would have hoped. He has been sick and injured, and has not performed up to the level of play that was expected of him this season. While fighting through double-teams on nearly every play, he has made only 12 tackles in four games. Three of those have been tackles for loss, including two sacks, but those are not the numbers most were expecting from Clowney in 2013.
The best way to put all of this behind him is to come out in Saturday’s game against the Arkansas Razorbacks and have his best performance of the year. If Clowney does not do that, the questions about his commitment to the team will continue to persist.
Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for RantSports.com and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.