ROCK HILL — Jadeveon Clowney was scarce and in high demand after his announcement Monday morning. But his mother, Josenna Clowney, was kind enough to stick around and answer questions from a group of reporters. While her son chose South Carolina over Clemson and Alabama, Josenna seemed more impressed with Clemson. Here’s her take on the whole recruiting process.
What did Clemson do to get in the game?
“Clemson, they, I didn’t talk to Clemson’s coaches like I had talked to South Carolina’s coaches. They had that coach (Chris) Rumph, but he ended up leaving to go to Alabama. But he was mainly talking with my son. I hardly talked to him until the end – and then maybe about a week later, he went to Alabama. But coach (Dabo) Swinney came to my house and he sat down and he talked to me. He really sounded good about Clemson. We took the visit. We weren’t even going to take the Clemson visit. He talked us into coming to Clemson.”
What sort of influence did Dabo’s wife, Kathleen, have on you?
“Everywhere we went, all the coaches wives were engaged (in recruiting). I was used to it. But I really liked Clemson a lot. It wasn’t too far and it wasn’t too close.”
What do you think about Spurrier?
“(laughs quietly) Well, he’s still … I mean, I talk with him sometimes, too. He seems to be an OK coach. I didn’t get to talk to him like I talked to Dabo.”
How long have you known he was going to South Carolina?
“I did not really know for sure until last week when he came to me and said, ‘Mom, I’m going to South Carolina.’ At first, it was ‘Alabama, Alabama, Alabama.’ I did not want him to go to Alabama. He never really came out to tell me exactly. And when he did tell me, like Tuesday, I thought he was just joking. He came in the room and was like, ‘Ma, I’m going to South Carolina.’ For real? It was last Tuesday when I really knew. Sometimes he would say he could go to Clemson. It’s been hard for him to make this decision.”
How difficult has it been to keep him focused on his grades?
“My first answer to that is parenting doesn’t just start when your child turns 16 or 17 years old. It’s truly hard. Now he’s 17 years old and I’m like the enemy, because I’ve never been 17 before, so he thinks. It’s very hard. I’m trying my best to keep him focused so he can do what he has to do so he can go to college.”
Has this experience changed what you think about fame and being in the spotlight?
“I just wish that sometimes people would leave us alone, let us get back to normal. I mean, I have sympathy for those people who have to be in the spotlight at all times. So, I’m hoping it dies down now that he’s made his choice.”
He said he has a difficult time saying no. Is that why the ESPN thing went the way it did? Same for the camera crew following him around for a documentary?
“I was asking him, ‘Why don’t you just tell them no? You don’t want to do it? Tell them no.’ But he doesn’t like telling anybody no. He’d tell LSU he would come. He would tell Ohio State he would come to Ohio State. I’d say, ‘You told them what?’ He said, ‘I just didn’t tell them no.’ He cannot say no. He said he’s going to learn.”
How long has Jadeveon been this confident?
“Always. He’s always been like that.”
Did you talk to any other parents who have been through recruiting process?
“I talked to Marcus Lattimore’s mom. She’s probably the only one. Maybe Stephon (Gilmore’s) mom. I talked to her, too.”
What was their advice?
“Marcus Lattimore’s mom said she gave the people one day to call her house at a certain time, and you couldn’t call after that time. I just didn’t answer. If I didn’t want to talk, I just didn’t answer the phone.”
What did you think of the other South Carolina assistants?
“(pauses) I liked all of … I kind of liked … To me, Clemson had a lot more assistants that were more into … I mean, I didn’t get to meet the ones at South Carolina … I met them but I didn’t have a relationship and talk with them, which I really didn’t have no relationship with the ones at Clemson, either … but I did get to talk with them. I felt more comfortable talking to them. But I know I have talked to some of them, like Lorenzo Ward and coach Ellis Johnson and Brad Lawing. But it was just a different feel.”
But you’re obviously good with where he’s going?
“Yes. That’s his choice and I’m happy for him.”
Who were the recruiters from Clemson?
“They had coach (Marion) Hobby. They had just gotten him from Duke. And Jeff Scott. He had been trying to recruit him for a long time. (Jadeveon) was just never that into Clemson. He wanted to play in the SEC. I didn’t know the difference between the ACC and the SEC. I was like, ‘Why don’t you like North Carolina or any of those?’ Someone finally explained to me that they weren’t in the SEC. Clemson had coach Scott and Dabo Swinney and I think coach Rumph, but I didn’t know him much until he went to Alabama. Dabo came in. That’s the one that got us to take the visit. When he came on his one visit to the house; it was late.”
How has Jadeveon handled the stress?
“Him? He’s just … I don’t know how he’s handled it. Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t handle it. I’m just tired. He just laughs it off. It’s very stressful. He’s only 17. This is a very big decision for a 17-year-old to make. And he’s handled it well. He handles it well. … Some things that I would be mad about, he lets them fall off his back.”
Do you wish you could go back in time, to last summer, and just decide then?
“No. Last summer, people at my job would tell me he’s going to be the No. 1 (recruit in the country). I didn’t know what that was. I’m just a momma. I just went to games. They said, ‘It’s going to get worse. It’s going to get worse.’ I would just go to work. They were like, ‘It gets worse.’”
Where do you work?
Frito-Lay in Charlotte.
How has it been at work?
“Everyone at work’s been OK. I had some people come to me and talk to me about certain schools. I’ve been working there 16 years, so everybody there knows me at my job.”
What about around town?
“In the streets, they’ll come up to me. ‘Hey, where’s your son going?’ If you’re in the grocery store and you mess around and say your last name … it’s just all kinds of things.”
Do you think you’ll get back to a normal life now?
“I’m hoping we can get back to a normal life. But now at least he’s going to go to school for three years. So I want to get back to my normal routine.”
What was it like to know that secret all of last week?
“When he told me, he just came in the room and said, ‘Mom, I’m going to South Carolina.’ He had done that 10 times. I didn’t think he was serious. He had made up his mind. When he told people he had already told me, I just went back to that time. I didn’t think that was serious. He’s a jokester.”
How big of a selling point was the SEC?
“Like I said, I just learned the difference in the SEC and the ACC last year. So maybe he had been talking to other people. To me, it was just SEC this and SEC that.”
What initially attracted him to Alabama?
“I think Alabama has all those national championships and he likes to win. He likes the championships. But I said, ‘Maybe you can get to South Carolina and help them get a national championship.’ You have to do what’s best for you.”