COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Already one of college football's biggest stars, South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney saw his fame skyrocket to near-mythical proportions in January.
The jaw-dropping, helmet-flying tackle he delivered on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl has come to be known simply as "The Hit."
Not that Clowney needed any validation as a great player, but it was one of those signature plays that announced once and for all that this guy was indeed on a different level, maybe even a different planet.
"I didn't think [Smith] was going to get up," South Carolina defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles said. "Thank God he did, but it sounded like a train wreck when he hit him.
"I've never seen anything like that in my life. Nobody can be that big, that fast and get off the ball like that."
For the record, Clowney has gotten even bigger, and he hasn't lost a step. At 6-foot-6, he's bulked up to 276 pounds and blistered the 40-yard dash in a staggering 4.5 seconds before the start of spring practice.
Teammate and sophomore running back Brandon Wilds was there to witness it.
"It was like watching an 18-wheeler going from zero to 60 in about two seconds," Wilds marveled. "There's a lot more to come from that guy next season."