Friday, February 11, 2011
No. 1 recruit Clowney faces big decision
By Sharon Katz
National Signing Day has come and gone and the nation’s top recruit remains unsigned. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is waiting until Valentine’s Day to unveil his plans for next season, and some of the nation’s top schools are left wondering what his future holds.
The addition of Clowney will improve the defensive line of any team in the country; Clowney recorded 29.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss and 11 forced fumbles in his senior year of high school, and his strength and speed are unrivaled in this 2011 recruiting class.
Clowney is taking his time, making sure he chooses the right school. Since 1986, only 36.4 percent (eight of 22) of the nation’s No. 1 high school recruits have been drafted in the first round, so Clowney must decide which program will give him the best chance to grow his game.
In his interview with Rece Davis on ESPNU, Clowney narrowed his potential landing spots down to the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers. How do these schools compare in terms of production, playing time and draft history?
South Carolina recorded 41 sacks last season, fourth most in the nation. Under Steve Spurrier, South Carolina has averaged 30.5 sacks per season and allowed 3.98 yards per rush.
Alabama recorded a disappointing 27 sacks in 2010, tied for 56th in the nation. Despite blitzing on 33.2 percent of opponents’ passing plays in SEC play, no Alabama lineman recorded more than 4.5 sacks last season.
Clemson recorded 31 sacks in 2010, tied for 32nd in the nation. Tigers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers led the nation last season with 15.5 sacks.
South Carolina’s defensive line will have an opening as three-year starting defensive end Cliff Matthews is graduating.
Alabama is losing defensive lineman Marcell Dareus to the draft, but the Tide already signed two of the top defensive end recruits in the nation in Xzavier Dickson (No. 22 in ESPNU 150) and Jeoffrey Pagan (No. 53 in ESPNU 150).
Clemson is losing one of its two starting defensive ends as Da’Quan Bowers is heading to the draft. Andre Branch will likely be a senior starter in 2010, but the other defensive end spot is wide open.
South Carolina has never had a defensive end drafted in the first round and has had only one DE drafted in the first three rounds since 1967.
Alabama has not had a defensive end drafted in the first round since 1993.
Clemson has had three defensive ends drafted in the first round. Most recently, Gaines Adams was taken fourth overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2007 draft, and Bowers is the No. 1 pick in Todd McShay’s Mock Draft 3.0 and the No. 2 player on Mel Kiper’s Big Board.