The awards and accolades have been rolling in for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney following the 2012 season. Earlier this week Clowney was named to the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-American team, making Clowney a unanimous All-American from all five major organizations. Clowney had already earned All-American honors from the Associated Press, AFCA, Walter Camp and Sporting News. Clowney also earned All-American honors from ESPN.com, CBSSports.com, and FoxSportsNext.com. Clowney becomes just the second South Carolina player to become a unanimous All-American, joining George Rogers who was a consensus All-American in 1980. The only difference between the two players is the phrase that normally precedes the name of Rogers; Heisman Trophy winner. Clowney hopes that next December he will be hoisting the Heisman Trophy in New York to join Rogers as the only two South Carolina players to win the Heisman Trophy.
“I’m going to try and get there,” Clowney said Monday evening. “That’s my next big thing to get to. Next year I’m going to come in and work harder to try and get there.”
Clowney began his Heisman campaign in the season finale against Clemson, where he recorded seven tackles and got to Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd five times to register 4.5 sacks, a school record for sacks in a game. Clowney also set Carolina standards in tackles for loss (21.5) and sacks (13). His tackles for loss ranked him second in the country behind Georgia’s Jarvis Jones (22.5) and his 13 sacks was good for second behind UCLA’s Anthony Barr (13.5). Those numbers was good enough for Clowney to leap into the top 10 in the final Heisman voting, finishing sixth with 61 votes and four first-place votes. Clowney finished behind Heisman winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and runner up Manti Te’o as well as Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, Southern Cal receiver Marqis Lee, and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.
Clowney also won the Ted Hendricks award for the top defensive end in the nation, and was a finalist for Bronko Nagurski Trophy for defensive player of the year, the Vince Lombardi Award for the best defensive lineman/linebacker, and the Chuck Bednarik Award for the best defensive player. That made for quite a tiresome week for the sophomore phenom to attend the three separate ceremonies.
“Sometimes,” Clowney responded to how tiring the week was. “I told (Assistant AD Steve) Fink I was ready to go on some of them, but it was alright.”
Clowney got to spend the week with some of the nation’s premier defensive players, including Teo and Jones. For many players that would be a big stroke to the ego to be mentioned with the top prospects and enjoy the attention and winning awards, but Clowney was more ready to come back to South Carolina.
“I went with him to two of them, Charlotte and Orlando,” defensive line coach Brad Lawing said. “He was more enamored with meeting Johnny Manziel, Jarvis Jones, Manti Te’o and traveling with those people and seeing them. He was like a little kid.”
If Clowney is to achieve his goal and win the 2013 Heisman Trophy he would become just the second primarily defensive player to win the Heisman, joining former Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson. In order for Clowney to win out over offensive players, he would have to have a special season in which he leads the nation in most statistics.
“Instead of me just leading the country in sacks and tackles for loss, probably more forced fumbles,” Clowney said. “I’m going to go for more forced fumbles next year and just more big plays.”
Clowney was mentioned as a guy that scouts would take in the first round coming out of high school and many have said that he would be a potential top pick in this season’s draft though he still has one more season to become eligible for the draft.
“It makes me want to go,” Clowney. “I know I have to wait my three years so I’m just going to wait and be patient and work on my game and get ready to go when it’s my time.”
Until then, Clowney still has some unfinished business.