COLUMBIA -- The nation's top high school football recruit was handcuffed and questioned by police early Friday morning in a case of mistaken identity.
By sundown, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was in handcuffs himself, to illustrate that USC signee Jadeveon Clowney's brief run-in with the law was "no big deal."
Columbia police chief Randy Scott attended the Gamecocks' practice, talking to the team before it began and mock-cuffing the Ball Coach at the end to prove a point.
"After the chief knew I didn't rob that convenience store down the road, he let me go," Spurrier said, referring to a tale he concocted with Scott. "Last night, they let Jadeveon go. … It's not embarrassing to be handcuffed. That's what I'm trying to say."
Spurrier and Scott said Clowney, who signed Feb. 14 with USC, was in the Five Points area with fellow signee Gerald Dixon Jr. when police were informed of an armed robbery suspect that matched Clowney's description.
"The story we found out last night was that he should not have been around town at 2 in the morning," Spurrier said.
Around 2:30 a.m., officers temporarily detained, questioned and searched Clowney in a restaurant parking lot before releasing him. The 6-6, 250-pound Rock Hill native was held long enough for onlookers, mostly young college students, to start chanting his name. Some got violent.
An incident report said there were "multiple" arrests for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, drunkenness and hindering an officer while questioning. A witness said beer bottles were heaved in the general direction of policemen. All the while, many booed while others chanted Clowney's name.
"I think he walked in two or three bars," Spurrier said. "All the fans started chanting, 'Clowney, Clowney' again. Hopefully he'll get tired of everybody saying Clowney. Hopefully out there in that stadium (Williams-Brice), that's the next time people are going to start chanting 'Clowney, Clowney.' That's the next time I hope to hear that."
Both Spurrier and Scott said several times that Clowney was not drunk and did nothing wrong.
"Now, I wish he hadn't gone," Spurrier said, "and hopefully he's going to learn not to go down there real soon."
Scott said Clowney should not have been inside the 21-and-over bar, and that a doorman at Pavlov's was terminated after a police visit Friday afternoon.
Some fans were angry about the incident, seizing on a long-held perception that police officers target USC football players. That was part of the reason Scott attended practice, to ensure the relationship between the police force and the school stays strong.
"I spoke to the football team earlier this afternoon about the incident and basically told them there's no pleasure (in it)," Scott said. "No one wants to see any of our Gamecocks locked up. We want to see them getting their education, getting the highest-quality education, seeing them succeed on the field."
Clowney was in Columbia on Thursday and early Friday morning because his high school, South Pointe, had a furlough day Friday. Clowney still has some work to do to qualify academically, but he is expected to enroll on time in June.
Spurrier and Clowney spoke Friday afternoon about the incident.
"He didn't seem too upset about it, when I talked to him," Spurrier said. "He told me what happened. They said they let him go after they asked him a few questions. I think, you know, we've got to understand that police have a job to do. They don't know who's got a gun and who doesn't."
Scott said his officers acted appropriately, in his mind.
"We have a responsibility to make sure everyone is safe and when we get a call of a robbery, we have to act on it," Scott said. "We can't just ignore it."
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