February 14, 2011
Here's how Jadeveon Clowney's signing with South Carolina affects.....
South Carolina: Clowney's signing is huge for multiple reasons. But two stand out. For starters, the Gamecocks have a need at defensive end, and that likely will provide the 6-foot-6, 247-pound Clowney, who finished his three-year varsity career with 60.5 sacks, a chance to play early. The Gamecocks won the SEC East last year partly because they consistently pressured opposing quarterbacks. South Carolina ended the season ranked seventh in sacks. Clowney has the ability to ensure the program's pass rush will again be a strength.
Also, there is this: national perception. There is a certain amount of prestige a program gets when it signs the country's top-rated player. The Clowney signing keeps a spotlight on South Carolina. And for a program still craving respect, that alone is significant.
Alabama: Losing out on Clowney doesn't hurt the Tide, who still have the country's top overall recruiting class. That said, comments by both Clowney and his mother, Josenna Clowney, on Monday suggest Alabama might have signed the star had the school not been so far away. That, no doubt, has to sting just a little. Clowney's mom said after her son returned from his Jan. 14 visit to Tuscaloosa all he could talk about was the Tide. Essentially, she nixed Alabama because of distance. The Tide should be fine at defensive end. In fact, Alabama signed the No. 2 class of ends.
Clemson: The Tigers, whom Clowney visited Jan. 28, pitched Clowney on the idea he could be the program's next Da'Quan Bowers, a standout defensive end who possibly could go first overall in this year's NFL draft. In a recent interview, Clowney said Clemson defensive ends coach Marion Hobby told him he potentially could become even better than Bowers.
Clemson's biggest selling point, however, might have been Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney. Clowney told TigerIllustrated.com last week his mother "thinks he would coach me the best out of all of them." Clowney's signing would have given what already is considered the best Clemson recruiting class most can recall a fifth five-star recruit.
Team rankings: Clowney is South Carolina's 32nd signee in the Class of 2011, and the first five-star player. Before it landed Clowney, the Gamecocks had the country's No. 20 recruiting class. With his signature, South Carolina made a marginal jump of two spots to No. 18.
Conference rankings: The Gamecocks have the seventh-best class in the ultra-competitive SEC. That's up one spot thanks to the Clowney signing. They jumped Ole Miss, but remain behind Alabama (No. 1 nationally), Georgia (No. 5), LSU (No. 6), Auburn (No. 7), Florida (No. 12) and Tennessee (No. 13).
Defensive end rankings: South Carolina ranks only ninth in defensive end signings, even with Clowney. The reason? The Gamecocks inked only one other end, three-star prospect Gerald Dixon. The good news for South Carolina? No school had a higher player average (4.0 stars).
The SEC East: South Carolina returns much of its starting lineup from a 2010 team that was among the most successful in program history. If Clowney can have the immediate impact many suspect, the Gamecocks have enough pieces around him where one could argue they should again be the team to beat in the East.
Steve Spurrier: Getting Lattimore last year was big. But with Clowney, the head ball coach and the Gamecocks have one-upped themselves. When Spurrier arrived at South Carolina prior to the 2005 season, there were some who didn't think his program could consistently lure the big names to Columbia. That line of thinking has been all but crushed.