All eyes were on Jadeveon Clowney as he participated in South Carolina’s pro day this week, but the impact of an event like that reaches far beyond Clowney’s draft stock. It affects the fans, coaches, current players, and even the recruits who are interested in the Gamecocks.
Linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams, one of 10 ESPN 300 players to sign with South Carolina in 2014, was among those watching the pro day. We caught up with him to ask about Clowney’s performance and where he should go in the draft.
Q: What did you take away from Clowney’s pro day this week?
Allen-Williams: He should be the No. 1 overall pick. He’s a freak of nature. Just by talking to him and having conversations with him, he’s a humble guy, works hard, all that. So I think he should be the No. 1 pick, but it’s really up to the Texans.
Q: So you’ve talked to Clowney in the past?
Allen-Williams: Yeah, I’ve talked to him plenty of times. Every time I go up there, he makes sure he gets a chance to talk to me.
Q: Did he impact your decision, knowing that South Carolina can produce a top pick?
Allen-Williams: Yeah, it definitely did help. Last year around this time, I wasn’t really sold where I was going to school. By going up and talking to guys like Clowney, talking to guys like Mike Davis, guys that are potential first-rounders, that was a huge factor into why I ended up signing with South Carolina. They’re going to produce somebody every year, produce a couple guys every year, and that’s a huge thing.
Q: You looked around some late in the recruiting process. What made you want to stick with the Gamecocks?
Allen-Williams: Just my relationship with Coach [Lorenzo] Ward. He has a lot of things in store for this class, and I was one of the original pieces to the class. I was the second commitment. I helped get a lot of other guys to be a part of the class, so for me to go anywhere else, I would feel like I was disrespecting them. South Carolina is a great place. I just had to remember why I was telling other guys to come there. Once I remembered that, I just felt like South Carolina was the best place to be, and I feel like there’s a lot of big things we’re going to do this year.
Q: Looking back at all your visits, what’s the one thing that stood out?
Allen-Williams: On my official visit to South Carolina, having people come up to me and recognize who I was, that was pretty crazy to me. It was so surreal having people say ‘I can’t wait until you get up here next year. I can’t wait for you to do big things for the Gamecocks.’ That was pretty special.
Q: I know you’re big on Twitter. How’d you use that during the recruiting process?
Allen-Williams: Twitter is very good when you use it for the right reasons. For me, I just wanted to get my personality out there and build a brand. We had this all-star game, the Rising Seniors, and basically they told us to make sure you build a brand. I felt like Twitter was the best way to do that. I was able to develop a mini-fanbase of South Carolina fans, and I haven’t even stepped on campus. I was also able to connect with a lot of other guys that I wanted to help get to South Carolina next year. That was a huge thing because a lot of guys I wouldn’t have been able to talk to without social media, I was able to talk to, reach out to and let them know some things about South Carolina. It really paid off, and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve got another top-25 recruiting class.
Q: What’s your plan between now and when you enroll at the end of May?
Allen-Williams: Right now, I’m playing baseball. I’m doing a lot of conditioning, a lot of running, trying to trim some of the baby fat off before I go up to South Carolina this summer. It’s more mental than anything because I’ve been playing football my whole life. The football side of things, it’s going to take care of itself with the training and the hard work I’m going to put in. But I’m watching film on games last year, evaluating the way that the linebackers play, evaluating what type of schemes that we’re running. I’m just really trying to be a student of the game, especially this first year. I’ll probably get a couple of looks on third downs and stuff, but I’m really trying to become one of the top linebackers that ever came through South Carolina.
Q: Lastly, who you got winning it all in hoops this weekend?
Allen-Williams: I’m going to say Kentucky. I really like Kentucky. Julius Randle, the Harrison twins, those are some good ball players. I’m going to pick Kentucky.