He can get better?
Jadeveon Clowney was the most decorated player to ever sign to play with South Carolina. He was the number one player in the nation, National Defensive Player of the Year, and "Mr. Football" in South Carolina.
When he got to South Carolina he didn't disappoint. In his first collegiate game, Clowney recorded seven tackles against East Carolina, and nearly deflected a pass to himself that would have likely resulted in the first touchdown of his collegiate career.
It was the second game when Clowney officially burst onto the scene. In the first SEC game of his career in Athens, Clowney registered his first two career sacks on Aaron Murray and the second resulted in a fumble and Melvin Ingram touchdown that would eventually be the game-winning score in a 45-42 win over Georgia.
Clowney ended up with 36 tackles on the season, finished eighth in the SEC with eight sacks, and tied for fourth in the SEC with five forced fumbles. That was enough for Clowney to earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors
Not bad for someone that didn't know what he was doing most of the time he was on the field.
"I didn't know that much last year and I was tip-toeing out there and not really knowing what I was doing," Clowney said. "This year I'm learning better."
Defensive line coach Brad Lawing was always sure to have a veteran – Melvin Ingram, Travian Robertson and Aldrick Fordham to name a few – to show Clowney what he was supposed to do when he was on the field.
"There were times last year where he probably had guys out there milking him through the series; telling him where to line up and what to do," Lawing said. "He's really improved in that area."
In normal situations a player that does not fully know the playbook would not play and a freshman would likely redshirt to learn the playbook and hope he could help the team the next season. However, Clowney is not a normal player. To simply put it, he's a freak. He had to be on the field and the only way he would get on the field is to have someone in there that knew what he was supposed to do and be Lawing's "coach" on the field.
"He was always in there with somebody helping him with what to do," Lawing said. "I've dealt with that my entire career. If you have an exceptional player, having him over there drinking Gatorade is not very smart. Get him on the field and have somebody help him through the series."
Whatever was said to Clowney while he was on the field worked, but as special as he is as a player, there were still times when he was caught out of position. Against disciplined teams such as Navy he struggled at times, but often times was so athletic he could make up for it. This year that shouldn't be a problem.
"In our meetings he can verbalize what he's supposed to do," Lawing said. "I put him on the board and make him do it with a grease marker. He can do that now."
Lawing believes that the sky is the limit for Clowney, but only if he continues to work hard and learn the playbook. Lawing should not have to make sure that there is someone out there that has to tell Clowney what to do this season.
"I hope he doesn't," Lawing said. "If you're a second year player and you don't know our scheme; you've been in it for over a year, you should know what to do."
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