It was reported today that South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney will have surgery at the end of the football season. The USC player, one of the top defensive players in the nation, has been predicted to be the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
While Clowney has been criticized by some sports pundits for not quite living up to the Superman status he was promoted to by ESPN in the off-season, the 6-foot, 6-inch, 274-pound defensive end out of Rock Hill, South Carolina has been playing in pain. The Carolina player reportedly has bone spurs in his foot, which he says have been bothering him “a lot.” Instead of going through with the surgery now, Clowney plans to play through the pain so he can continue to be a contributor on USC's defense.
“It’s painful. I’m out here playing on it, though, so I’m just trying to give everything I’ve got on it,” Clowney told GoGamecocks.com. “Who knows what’s going to happen out there? It doesn’t really bother me when I am out there much. It’s just builds up pain. The more I keep going on it, the more it bothers me.”
After coming off three games over the past three weeks, Clowney will have a chance to rest his foot until the Gamecocks head to Florida to face UCF on September 28 since the Gamecocks have a BYE week coming up.
While bone spur surgery is considered relatively minor and shouldn't impact Clowney's draft status, if his condition worsens throughout the season and he isn't able to put up his typical tackle and sack stats, it is possible he could see his status slip a little. As long as Clowney has a decent season, though, he should remain a potential Top 5 pick, which would land him a huge signing bonus.
In addition to the bone spur pain, Clowney has had to adjust his playing style since the offenses he has faced so far have tried their best to run plays away from him. "It's hard out there trying to chase from the backside" Clowney said after the Gamecocks lost to Georgia last week. Even though that makes it difficult for Clowney to make as many big plays, that goes to prove just how scared the other teams are of him, as they should be, considering some of the impressive sacks and tackles the Heisman hopeful has made.
See some of Clowney's dominant performances below.
"The Hit" - South Carolina vs. Michigan 2013
"Four in a Row" - South Carolina vs. Clemson 2012