COLUMBIA — Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is already one of the most successful players in South Carolina football history, and the sophomore still has one more season to play before he heads off to NFL riches. Many observers believe he will be the first overall draft pick in 2014.
The former top-ranked recruit in the nation, Clowney added to his growing resume on Wednesday, when he won the Ted Hendricks Award, which has been presented since 2002 to college football’s best defensive end. Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers won it in 2010.
Clowney is the second ever USC player to win an individual national award, and the first since running back George Rogers won the 1980 Heisman Trophy.
Clowney beat out Southern California’s Morgan Breslin, Florida State’s Cornelius “Tank” Carradine, LSU’s Sam Montgomery, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore and Florida State’s Bjoern Werner. Clowney got nearly two-thirds of the final round votes, a new record for the award. He is the first sophomore to win. The award will be presented at a to-be-determined time and place.
Clowney on Wednesday also was named the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year in a poll of the league’s coaches. They voted USC wide receiver and punt returner Ace Sanders as the co-special teams player of the year, along with Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis.
Clowney was in Houston on Wednesday for the Lombardi Award presentation after being in Charlotte on Monday for the Nagurski Trophy ceremony. He is scheduled to be in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., tonight for the College Football Awards show, as he is up for the Bednarik Award, which, like the Nagurski, is a defensive player of the year award.
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o won the Nagurski and Lombardi, which goes to the country’s best lineman or linebacker. The other Lombardi finalists were Clowney, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones and Alabama center Barrett Jones.
Te’o is also up for the Bednarik, along with Clowney and Jones. Though the award winner will be announced tonight, it will officially be presented March 1 in Atlantic City, N.J.
Te’o, whose team will play Alabama for the national championship, then heads to New York for Saturday night’s Heisman presentation. Many observers believe Clowney has a good chance of being a Heisman finalist next season.
As USC prepares for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl against Michigan, Clowney is tied with Werner and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr for the national lead with 13 sacks. Clowney had 4½ in the regular season finale victory over Clemson. Clowney has 21½ tackles for loss, second only to Jones’ 22½.
USC’s old single-season records for sacks and tackles for loss were 10 and 19½. Clowney has 21 career sacks and 33½ tackles for loss. The USC career records in those categories are 29 and 54½, both set by defensive end Eric Norwood from 2006-09.
Clowney’s other career honors include SEC Freshman of the Year (as voted by the coaches) and first-team freshman All-American last season. He was named first-team all-SEC this season by the coaches and Associated Press, whose voters picked him unanimously for the first team, and has already collected one first-team All-American selection, by the American Football Coaches Association, with more likely to come.
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel (6) scrambles as he is chased by South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida won the game 44-11.(AP Photo/John Raoux)×
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) and linebacker Damario Jeffery (33) close in on UAB running back Greg Franklin during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/The State, Tim Dominick)×
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney sacks Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray during second-quarter action in Athens, Ga. on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011. (Photo by Travis Bell/Sideline Carolina)×
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney wraps up Georgia's Todd Gurley during first-quarter action in Columbia, S.C. on Sat., Oct. 6, 2012. (Photo by Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)×
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, left, and Devin Taylor wrap up UAB quarterback Jonathan Perry during first-quarter action in Columbia, S.C. on Sat., Sept. 15, 2012. (Photo by Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)×
For Cover of FB Preview: USC Gamecocks wide receiver Shaq Roland, left, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and tailback Marcus Lattimore are the last three winners of South Carolina Mr. Football.×
Clemson Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd (10) is sacked by South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) in the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.×
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney forces East Carolina quarterback Rio Johson into an interception during second-quarter action in Columbia, S.C. on Sat., Sept. 8, 2012. (Photo by Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)×
South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) walks by UAB Blazers quarterback Jonathan Perry (14) after a big hit in the first quarter of the Gamecocks game against UAB at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC.×