Tuck: Why Jadeveon Clowny Should Play

It was suggested by Tom Sorensen that South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney would be best served sitting out all of his junior season instead of risking an injury that could derail his high NFL Draft stock.

Certainly covering the Gamecocks, you’d understand why this would be a popular subject with what has happened to star RB Marcus Lattimore.  It certainly makes for an interesting debate, about what is important, and even if the NFL’s 3-years-out-of-high-school-rule is fair.

First of all, I think Clowney should play.  He is a great player, and he isn’t the first great player that appeared ready for the NFL after just a couple of years of college.  It isn’t necessarily a long list, but it would be an impressive list.  That is just a freshman list.  But even looking at that, you can see that being great early doesn’t necessarily mean being a great NFL player.

Secondly, injury is a risk you take every play, every game, and every season.  It’s just part of being a football player.

Thirdly, the other part of being a football player is playing!  You play because you like it.  You want to do well, and you want to win.  College football may be viewed by some as simply a path to fortunes and fame, but is still just a game, and not everyone is thinking only about turning pro and making money.

Finally, even if there is some risk, medicine and surgery are so phenomenal today that recovery is pretty “easy.”  And NFL teams know this.  Consider that Miami RB Willis McGahee blew out his knee in the national championship game and still was drafted in the first round four months later by Buffalo. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford missed nearly the entire 2009 season and still went No. 1 overall to the Rams in April that year.  Cal RB Jahvid Best missed much of the same season with a concussion, and was still selected in the first round by the Lions.  Those same head problems may have ended his career now, but teams will take risks on injured guys if they are talented enough is the message.

They also provide insurance for these kind of things and those kind of players.  Even then, the risk of catastrophic, career-ending injury is so remote, that I read where  USC QB Matt Barkley’s family actually opted against taking out expensive disability insurance this season because it’s basically throwing away money.  Barkley was projected as a first rounder by many in 2012, but chose to come back.

So, yes, Jadeveon Clowney should play next year.  Steve Spurrier, duh, agrees.  He is a football player, and while he is a special young talent, we aren’t rewriting the rules for him.  Remember Ohio State RB Maurice Clarrett and USC WR Mike Williams already tried that.  And for what it’s worth, neither lasted long in the NFL.