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While it is not a shock that Jadeveon Clowney landed in nearby Columbia, the impact is still huge. Clowney is arguably the most promising prospect coming out of high school that we have seen in the ESPNU 150 era.
The defensive end possesses a wonderful combination of size, speed and athleticism and proved he can be a force against an equal level of competition by doing very well in two all-star games. The five-star defensive end has all the tools to be a force as a pass-rusher. With great first-step quickness, a long reach and good power, he is capable of running by, through and around blockers to get to the quarterback. He can be tough against the run with the ability to take on and separate from blockers and hold his ground as well as run plays down from behind.
While Clowney is an excellent high school prospect, perhaps the most exciting thing is that he still has room to improve and he's not yet at his ceiling from a physical or playing standpoint. He has good size and the frame to add more good bulk with time in a college weight program.
The Gamecocks have some talent on their defense, which already features two former highly rated South Pointe prospects, but the addition of the No. 1 defensive end gives South Carolina a player with the ability to be a difference-maker who could contribute quickly.
The hype surrounding Clowney is deserved, but expectations could be tough to live up to, especially very early on. He has great raw tools and displays good football instincts, but still needs to learn to play with better pad level and under control at times -- so despite very good ability and being well-coached at the high school level he needs to keep developing as a player in areas.
The bottom line, though, is that Clowney is an excellent prospect with a wealth of ability to work with and the tools to be an impact-type player at the college level -- he's simply a huge pickup for South Carolina.
-- Craig Haubert