Neck and back pain could sideline standout South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for the remainder of spring practice and the Gamecocks' spring game.
Clowney, considered a 2013 Heisman Trophy candidate and a sure-fire first-round NFL draft pick, sprained his neck in practice last week in a collision with defensive tackle J.T. Surratt and wasn't given medical clearance to return to the field on Tuesday. The All-American also missed a team scrimmage last Saturday.
"My back and neck are hurting me," Clowney said. "I should be OK coming out of spring ball. I should be coming around soon, hopefully."
As far as practicing again this spring, Clowney said, "That's up to the coaches. It's not really about being out here. It's about learning the playbook. We put in some new stuff, so all I have to do is learn the play calls. The rest of it, I'll catch up on."
South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward indicated that he's not expecting Clowney to return until fall camp.
"Whether he goes another snap, I don't care," Ward said.
Clowney, who will be a junior this fall, finished in a tie for second in FBS in sacks with 13 and tackles for loss with 23.5 last season. He's fifth in school history with 21.0 career sacks and tied for second with 35.5 tackles for loss.
The Gamecocks' spring game is Saturday.