COLUMBIA -- Along with advising Texas A&M on exit strategy and helping the Oregon Ducks decide which of their 82,716 uniform combos to wear against LSU, my college football preseason to-do list included "don't forget the sunblock" and "confirm that Jadeveon Clowney cannot possibly be as dazzling as nationally advertised."

Three out of four is not bad.

Clowney is that good.

Saw it with my own magnified lenses.

First scrimmage snap through the binoculars: No. 7, a big blur of garnet and white with hair hanging out the back of his Block C helmet, slammed through the line, zoomed into the backfield, found Stephen Garcia about to attempt a pass, slapped the football away, caught it and ran 22 yards for a touchdown.

Poor East Carolina.

The Gamecocks would have been tough enough to open against without the addition of the consensus No. 1 high school football recruit in the world, a player who might be underrated.

You think you have problems?

The Pirates must try to get in

Clowney's way for three hours Saturday night when they face No. 12 South Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Open enthusiasm

He's a 6-6, 254-pound defensive end but looks bigger.

Plays faster.

Clowney's college debut is a series of "SportsCenter" moments waiting to happen, a chance for the general public to see what Gamecocks players and coaches have witnessed for the last month.

"I think he's done about what we all expected," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday at his first weekly news conference of the season. "I think what surprised us is that he's a little bit of a power rusher also. He can knock those guys back when he needs to. So he's not just a fast guy coming around the edge.

"He's done well. Like I said, he'll be in early and often and we'll let him earn his way as he goes through the season."

Just a hunch. But guessing here that Clowney starts.

And as if he needs more incentive playing in an NFL stadium, the Carolina Panthers' home field is just up the road from Clowney's Rock Hill home.

It was funny during the Gamecocks' preseason camp watching folks try to contain their glee. Defensive line coach Brad Lawing would start with that "earn his way" stuff but then break into bubbly praise about Clowney's work ethic and pleasant coachability.

Tackle Rokevious Watkins thinks the offensive line is better for having faced Clowney, Devin Taylor and friends.

Taylor, a junior All-SEC first-team selection, was so overlooked he became South Carolina's "other" defensive end.

Garcia says he will "have fun watching Clowney."

Sure beats getting sacked.

Love the plot

It's quite a South Carolina-East Carolina contrast in North Carolina.

East Carolina runs a Mike Leach-style passing attack that head coach Ruffin McNeill picked up while working under Leach at Texas Tech.

True, the Pirates gave up 76 points against Navy last season during a sad year for the defense. But they averaged 36.8 points per game on offense.

"This is a passing team," Spurrier said. "Our rushers are going to get a chance to rush and our cover guys are going to get a chance to cover."

The setting.

The plot.

Just right for South Carolina's new leading man.

Reach Gene Sapakoff at or 937-5593.