HOOVER, Ala. — Even Jadeveon Clowney has to marvel at his widely seen, helmet-popping, ball-jarring hit of Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl. But anymore, Clowney doesn’t watch in awe of the play itself, but rather, how frequently it is shown — seemingly whenever he is mentioned on television.

“I was happy at first, like, ‘Hey! I did that’ ” he said Tuesday of his initial reaction to the hit. “Now, it’s like, ‘Oh, man, it’s still going on.’ But it’s a great honor to do something big like that and everybody recognize it.”

Such is the state of our viral video world: Become known for a clip, and it follows you forever, or at least for a long time.

Clowney said he first watched a replay of the hit on the sideline shortly after it happened, courtesy of a smart phone. On Wednesday night, a day after he spent much of his Southeastern Conference media days session reflecting on the hit, its publicity reached its zenith, when Clowney won Best Play at the ESPYs — ESPN’s annual sports award show.

Clowney, an All-American junior defensive end who will probably go first in next year’s NFL draft, flew from SEC media days in Hoover, Ala., to Los Angeles for the award show, which was hosted by “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm. The winners were determined by online fan voting. Clowney’s signature moment — the one that most sports fans now know him for — beat NBA player DeAndre Jordan’s alley-oop dunk, Ray Allen’s 3-pointer for the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals and a 55-foot buzzer-beating heave by high school basketball player Khalil Edney.

What is often unmentioned about Clowney’s hit of Smith is that nobody blocked Clowney, because of a miscommunication on Michigan’s offensive line. While the hit of Smith produced a spectacular highlight, most rational football observers would not consider it Clowney’s best play of the season. A better contender would be his strip sack of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, to clinch a 38-35 USC win. Bray’s helmet stayed on, but Clowney got to Bray by beating tackle Antonio Richardson, an elite player who handled him for much of the day.

“That was a big play,” Clowney said. “Everybody doesn’t really pay attention (to that play). It wasn’t a big hit, but it saved us in the last couple minutes of the game.”

ESPY Awards List

LOS ANGELES — Winners at the 21st annual ESPY Awards presented Wednesday:

Male Athlete: LeBron James, Miami Heat

Female Athlete: Serena Williams

Team: Miami Heat

Coach-Manager: Rick Pitino, Louisville Cardinals

Breakthrough Athlete: Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers

Game: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs, Game 6, NBA finals

Record-breaking Performance: Michael Phelps

Championship Performance: LeBron James, Miami Heat

Play: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina football

Moment: Jack Hoffman touchdown at Nebraska spring game

Upset: No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast beats No. 2 seed Georgetown in NCAA tournament

Comeback: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Male College Athlete: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M quarterback

Female College Athlete: Brittney Griner, Baylor basketball

Male Action Sport Athlete: Nyjah Huston, skateboarding

Female Action Sport Athlete: Stephanie Gilmore, surfing

Baseball Player: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

NBA Player: LeBron James, Miami Heat

WNBA Player: Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks

NFL Player: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

NHL Player: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

MLS Player: Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls

Bowler: Pete Weber

Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay

Fighter: Floyd Mayweather

Male Golfer: Tiger Woods

Female Golfer: Stacey Lewis

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Male Tennis Player: Novak Djokovic

Female Tennis Player: Serena Williams

International athlete: Usain Bolt

Male Olympian: Michael Phelps

Female Olympian: Missy Franklin

Male Athlete with a Disability: Jeremy Campbell, pentathlon

Female Athlete with a Disability: Jessica Long, swimming

College Athletic Program: North Carolina women’s athletics and UCLA men’s athletics

Arthur Ashe Courage Award: Robin Roberts

Jimmy V ESPY for Perserverance: Dick and Rick Hoyt