South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has informed a person close to him that he is leaning toward signing with Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports, according to a source familiar with his recruitment.
Though Clowney has experienced a decline in his production this year, he remains a presumptive top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. While his first two seasons at South Carolina saw him record 21 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss, he has just two sacks and 6 1/2 tackles for loss through nine games this season.
Clowney has already been publicly linked to Jay Z, whose given name is Shawn Carter. A July report in "Inside The League" indicated Clowney was "smitten" with the superstar rapper turned sports agent and that the two had been in "regular contact under the guise of the rapper recruiting him for his marketing potential."
The day the report surfaced, Clowney posted a picture on his Instagram account of an article discussing the report with the caption, "You kno we about to turn up. Dream coming true."
South Carolina's compliance office looked into Clowney's contact with Jay Z and Roc Nation Sports and later announced the defensive end hadn't engaged in any impermissible behavior.
Widely regarded as one of the most innovative business minds in the music and entertainment industry, Jay Z has been the subject of intense scrutiny since entering the sports agent business.
A number of agents have expressed displeasure with him – both publicly and privately – based on their belief he has blatantly bent, if not broken, NFL Players Association regulations while escaping union discipline.
One prominent example of the rift arose as a result of Roc Nation's recruitment and eventual signing of New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith.
Union regulations require all individuals who participate in the recruitment of prospective athlete-clients to be certified by the union. Jay Z does not have NFLPA certification.
On May 15, Smith posted a picture of himself and the rapper on his Instagram account with the following caption:
"Two men who stand on their own two feet. we only share ideas and motivate each other! It's easy to think you made it but I'm only 22, it's just the beginning [sic]. I was never motivated by fame or wealth, my LEGACY has a greater purpose."
Seven days after the Instagram post, Smith announced he had signed with Roc Nation Sports' only certified agent, Kim Miale. Miale has one active contract negotiated according to the NFLPA website.
The NFLPA began an investigation into Carter's involvement in Smith's recruitment. However, six months later, it's unclear what if any conclusion the union came to. NFLPA spokesman George Atallah did not return a call, text, or email for comment.
For his part, Carter responded to the union's investigation in the lyrics to one of the tracks off his album Magna Carta Holy Grail.
He stated simply:
"NFL investigations / Oh don't make me laugh."
Rand Getlin is an investigative reporter for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on twitter at @Rand_Getlin.