The Georgia football coach told a Georgia alumni gathering Monday in Duluth that Clowney "is the best football player in the world."
On the ESPN show Pardon The Interruption, the quote came up in a word game segment.
Tony Kornheiser called the comment "myopic." Michael Wilbon used the term "premature."
Richt also had said that Clowney "might be the very best player who exists today at any level.
Richt on Thursday was asked if he said what he meant to say.
"I forgot exactly how I said it," Richt said. "I said he might be the best one on the planet or something like that and it became news. I think that Clowney, I think he's the best college football player in America. There's a couple other guys you could debate on that. …I think if you give him a couple of years of him learning, once he's in the NFL and he's got a couple of years going through that learning curve or whatever, my bet is he'll be one of the best if not the best before his career is over in that league. That might be a better way to say it."
According to WOLO TV in Columbia, Spurrier said on the Jim Rome Radio Show Wednesday about Richt's comment: "I don't know what he's trying to say. But if he's trying to fatten up Jadeveon's thinking, I hope it doesn't work. Jadeveon has a lot of praise, a lot of attention the entire offseason and I think he's handled it pretty well."
Spurrier said Clowney is probably "the best defensive lineman in college football, I think everyone agrees with that."
Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera said he didn't agree with Richt that Clowney is the best player in college football.
"No, I don't think he is in my opinion" Herrera said.
He gives the nod to another player in the SEC.
Now married Burnette joins Theus on first team OL
Newlywed Chris Burnette will be apart from his bride for the next 10 days.
Burnette and Arielle Haynes were married in May in Tampa, but Burnette and his teammates are staying together for a week and a half during preseason camp.
"That's kind of hard for her and it's hard for me," Burnette said. "It is what it is. It's the nature of the beast. We already knew what the deal was. She was going to be out of town a lot for the next two weeks so it's not that bad."
Burnette lined up in his usual starting right guard spot on Thursday and the Bulldogs starting unit was like it was for most of last season: John Theus at right tackle, David Andrews at center, Dallas Lee at left guard and Kenarious Gates at left tackle.
Kolton Houston practiced mostly at second-team left guard for the hour of practice open to the media.
"He's going to cross train and he'll know the right guard position," Richt said. "He's athletic enough to play tackle as well."
Thursday was Houtson's first practice since being reinstated by the NCAA after finally meeting the appropriate threshold after testing positive for an anabolic steroid.
`Undersized' Thornton a Jay Ratliff fan
Georgia nose guard Mike Thornton, who checks in a 6-foot-1 and 302 pounds, laughs at being called undersized.
"Really? That's a lot of weight," Thornton said. "I couldn't imagine being 350."
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham likens Thornton to Jay Ratliff, who played for him in Dallas at a similar weight.
That name came up from Grantham to Thornton when Grantham recruited him.
"Because he knows guys expect nose tackles to be 350-plus," Thornton said. "That's what really brought me here knowing that he had a guy that was undersized. He's going to get the best out of me."
Thornton said he liked Ratliff before he came to Georgia.
"I was always a Jay Ratliff fan from when he was at Auburn," Thornton said. "I was like `Wow' I could actually play in this league.' Geno Atkins was another one, Jeff Owens. We're all about the same size. Jeff might be one or two inches taller than me, but body type we were the same."
Atkins and Owens played at Georgia before Grantham arrived
This and that
Cornerback Damian Swan said he's prepared to play the "star" nickel back position if need be in the 4-2-5 alignment. "That's what I played last year so if I was asked to go over there that wouldn't be a problem," he said. Georgia won't have safety/nickel back Josh Harvey-Clemons for the Clemson game due to a one-game suspension, but he worked with the starters in practice Thursday…Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, irked at his players after one play in Thursday's practice, told them: "Last year's over! You've got to work!"
Receiver Chris Conley missed practice Thursday to attend a family wedding. He was the best dressed player at lunchtime interviews wearing a suit jacket and dress pants.
Among those practicing for the first time on Thursday were 11 newcomers on defense. "The whole 2013 class is doing amazing things between Johnny O'Neal and (Tim) Kimbrough and Shaq (Wiggins) and all the young guys," linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. "I'm really interesting to see how they're going to do when they put on some pads." Safety Shaq Fluker (hamstring) and linebacker Devin Bellamy (shoulder) were in non-contact jerseys. Receiver Tramel Terry (knee) practiced in a regular jersey. Receiver Michael Bennett, coming off a torn ACL, laid out to make a grab in the first half of practice. He wore a regular jersey.