JaDeveon Clowney said he could win the 2013 Heisman before Tuesday’s Outback Bowl. Then he went out and delivered a hit that blew up the internet. Is this Gamecock ready to go one step further than Manti Te’o in 2012? Al Dannity breaks down his chances.
New Year’s Day is one where many of us rest after the perils of New Year’s Eve. It’s a sleepy day, filled with the occasional good Football game. Personally, I was tuned into the Capital One Bowl. Then I saw Twitter explode. Due to the wonders of modern technology, I could stay horizontal on my couch and play with my phone to see what on earth was happening in Tampa. It was JaDeveon Clowney launching his Heisman campaign right through the helmet of Michigan’s Vincent Smith.
The context is important here. The Wolverines had clearly come up short on an attempted fourth down conversion but the officials inexplicably ruled a first down. Some South Carolina fans may have felt aggrieved. Heck, some of their players may have thought the Football Gods weren’t shining on them. JaDeveon Clowney decided that while the officials had the right to enforce the rules, it was up to him to get justice.
He did this. That is to say he did this. Or rather that he did this. The impact, ferocious as it was, makes it hard to appreciate just how much Clowney did on the play. He cut through perfectly into the back-field, hit Smith so hard that the running back’s helmet flew about five yards into the sky, and yet this was just the beginning of the Gamecock’s work. Unsurprisingly the impact forced a fumble and Clowney calmly palmed the ball with his left hand before gaining a yard. Gamecock ball, game on.
Most of the time defensive players in the running for the Heisman have problems. They don’t put up numbers as easy to judge as offensive stars. That certainly hurt Ndamukong Suh. Even then they need a hype machine early, such as the one Manti Te’o had. Only then Te’o suffered from being up against a true phenomenon in Johnny Football. In 2013, Clowney is poised to be both a household name and a monster for the Gamecocks. Playing in the SEC, on a team set to contend in the East, he will have no shortage of the national spotlight. Were he eligible for the draft, it’s hard to see Clowney falling past the second overall pick. Instead he has to wait a year and he might just pick up the Heisman along the way.