COLUMBIA - Less than an hour after Jadeveon Clowney played his final college game in the Capital One Bowl this past New Year's Day, he talked about his dream.
South Carolina's junior defensive end named some of the greats. Ray Lewis. Julius Peppers. These were guys he grew up watching, cheering. He looked up to them since he was a kid.
There was one quarterback the explosive sack master named.
"Just to be going out there one day playing against Peyton Manning, it's just an honor, man," Clowney told reporters following South Carolina's victory against Wisconsin.
Clowney will get his wish early, and for longer than anyone expected. Before he even plays one snap in the regular season, the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft is scheduled to line up opposite the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
The Houston Texans will hold three joint practices with the Denver Broncos - Manning's team - before the season begins. The practices will take place before Houston plays its third preseason game at Denver on Aug. 23.
The Texans will also practice twice with the Atlanta Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan before their second preseason game in Houston.
Teams typically play their starters longer in the third preseason game before resting them in the fourth and final preseason game, so Clowney was already going to see Manning for at least a few snaps in a game-like environment. The three practices will provide an even longer exposure to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
For a young, promising pass rusher making a difficult transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, there could be no better teaching tool.