HOOVER, Ala. — Jadeveon Clowney caused a social media stir Tuesday when asked about quarterbacks.
Clemson’s Tajh Boyd?
“He’s scared every time we play them,” South Carolina’s All-America defensive end said Tuesday late in his whirlwind SEC Media Days tour of Wynfrey Hotel ballrooms. “He knows he’s scared. ... You can tell if a player is scared if he looks at me every time before the ball is snapped.”
Georgia’s Aaron Murray?
“He’s scared, too.”
Know what’s really scary? The 6-6, 270-pound Clowney creating havoc on offense as well as defense.
Clowney transcends college star status. His helmet-popping hit against Michigan’s Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl leaps football, making YouTube inroads into the lives of housewives. From Iceland to Singapore.
He’s a cartoon hero or villain, depending on which SEC or Palmetto State team is your favorite. He’s off to the ESPYs in L.A. for red carpet treatment unrolled for a “Best Play of 2013” nomination.
‘I’d like to’
But moving from sixth in the Heisman voting in 2012 to top three status in 2013 requires more than sacks and tackles, unless the sum total exceeds the combined number of Johnny Manziel’s touchdown passes and inappropriate tweets.
Clowney probably has to take over the play-calling duties from Steve Spurrier or score a few touchdowns on offense, one of which is a veiled possibility.
“I’d like to,” Clowney said when asked about some goal-line work as a tight end or … Whatever he wants.
“But the coaches haven’t talked to me about it,” the junior from Rock Hill said. “If they did talk to me about it, that would be fun.”
Spurrier talked about it.
“We got a bunch of offensive players that are pretty good,” he said, dismissing the notion.
The Head Ball Coach also left a little wiggle room.
“He played a little bit (of offense) in high school, though,” Spurrier said. “He’s capable of running with the ball. But that wouldn’t make sense, running with a ball, sprain an ankle, be standing over there with me the rest of the season.”
Unless it’s late in the season. With the Heisman on the line. In a game the Gamecocks lead by a comfy margin.
Facing Clowney for a few plays is enough to convince foes that dabbling on offense might work.
“He’s tall. He’s fast,” Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley said Tuesday in Hoover. “I’m pretty sure he’d be pretty good.”
Clowney, an African-American Studies major, knows enough about history to know Michigan’s Charles Woodson is the only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman.
Woodson edged Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning in 1997. The junior cornerback intercepted eight passes. He also caught two touchdown passes, rushed for a touchdown and returned 36 punts (one for a touchdown).
One way or the other, that might be the over-under for an earnest Clowney campaign for Heisman finalist honors in New York City.
Of course, defense still matters. Clowney is better known than any current NFL defensive end because of The Hit. He was a wrecking machine in the regular-season finale at Clemson (4.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles). A foot injury explains his lack of production in losses at LSU and Florida (2.5 tackles and one sack over both games).
The flipside is the forgotten little secret about the Outback Bowl: Clowney didn’t play very well his last time on a football field. Aside from The Hit, Michigan star tackle Taylor Lewan easily won the day against Clowney and didn’t require that much help. Spurrier immediately after the game made jokes about Clowney looking tired early in the game.
Goals for 2013?
“Make more plays than I did before,” Clowney said. “Tackles. Sacks. Forced fumbles. Interceptions.”
Add a few touchdown catches and Broadway beckons.
“It would be fun,” South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw said of the thought of having Clowney in the same huddle. “I don’t know how much of a reality that would be, but it would be fun to have him back there towering over me.”
And everyone in the Heisman Trophy race.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.