South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney appears to be in good spirits… (Rainier Ehrhardt / Associated…)
South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier appeared to be at wit's end with Jadeveon Clowney on Saturday night, seemingly questioning the star defensive end's dedication to the team after the player notified his coach just before kickoff that he wasn't going to play because of a rib injury.
A day later, though, Spurrier said he was frustrated not so much with the fact that Clowney was sitting out but with how he learned about it.
“Usually the doctor or the trainer comes and tells you a guy will be out,” Spurrier said Sunday. “That did not happen last night.”
He added: “On the other side, if a player's in pain, I don't want him to play, none of us do.”
Two years ago, Clowney was the SEC's freshman of the year. Last season he was the conference's defensive player of the year. All of that led to talk of a possible Heisman Trophy this fall and a No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft next spring.
But this year has been different as Clowney has battled various ailments — bone spurs in his right foot, a stomach bug and now the strained muscles around his ribs. Some have doubted his commitment, wondering if he was trying to protect his draft status rather than put himself at risk during a measly college game.
After the Gamecocks' 35-28 victory over Kentucky on Saturday, Spurrier sounded like one of those folks, telling reporters that if Clowney “wants to play, we will welcome him to come play for the team if he wants. But he if doesn't want to play, he doesn't have to play. Simple as that.”
And even on Sunday, Spurrier wouldn't answer a question about Clowney's commitment to the Gamecocks. “You'll have to ask him that,” the ol' ball coach said.
Reporters should have a chance to do just that, as Spurrier indicated he will allow Clowney the rare opportunity to speak to the media during the week to address his injury.
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