The mother of South Carolina All-America defensive end and presumptive 2014 No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Jadeveon Clowney told SI.com Thursday that she expects her son to play his third season of eligibility, rather than sit out the year to avoid injury. "I talked to him this week, and he wants to play,'' said Josenna Clowney. "I don't think he has it in him to sit out. He loves to play football. I know I want him to play."
Clowney's future has been the subject of speculation since Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer wrote a column on Feb. 10 suggesting that Clowney should consider sitting out his junior year while training independently for the NFL draft. NFL rules prohibit players from entering the draft until three years after their graduation from high school. Clowney graduated from South Pointe High in Rock Hill, S.C., in 2011 and has played two seasons for the Gamecocks.
Others, including NFL columnist Michael Silver of Yahoo!, have written that Clowney should challenge the three-year rule in court. Mike Florio of NBCSports.com and ProFootballTalk.com wrote that any such challenge would fail, as it did with for former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett and former USC wide receiver Mike Williams (both in 2004). No player has successfully beaten the three-year rule in court. Clowney would likely play a third season under an insurance policy that would pay up to $5 million if he suffered a career-ending injury (though Clowney's value, if healthy, is vastly higher).
Josenna Clowney, 40, has worked for 18 years at the Frito-Lay plant in Charlotte and said she is looking forward to retiring when her son signs an NFL contract, but not at the expense of an entire season of college football. "I enjoy the college games so much," said Josenna. "I enjoy the scenery and the stadiums. I would never want him to sit out a year."
Clowney is projected as a defensive force in the NFL. Listed at 6-foot-6, 256 pounds during his sophomore season, Clowney said in a January interview that he has grown to 6-6 ½, 273 pounds and runs exceptionally fast. (Clowney turned 20 years old on Thursday). He has told officials at South Carolina that "as of right now," he will play his junior season and Gamecocks' coach Steve Spurrier has said that he expects Clowney back.