Tom Rinaldi‘s job at ESPN is to make people cry. He did so again on Tuesday when he reported that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, at 270 pounds, ran a 4.5 40-yard dash during winter workouts.
Regarding whether the time was official or unofficial, the real question is does it truly matter? Clowney doesn’t have “SEC speed” because that would imply that he’s the same caliber athlete as that portion of the college football population. He isn’t — he’s the top 1 percent, leading me to believe he’s actually Predator — and that’s been well documented since before he arrived at South Carolina two years ago. What he did during winter workouts isn’t normal. At all.
Clowney’s abilities alone have most believing he’ll be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft, regardless of injury, numbers, or even the zero-to-none chance that he sits out the 2013 season.
It’s asinine that he has to play another year in college at all, but thems the rules.
He’ll also be in the Heisman discussion with a realistic chance of being a true defense-only player to win the award. When I think Heisman, I think game changers and game changing moments. There was perhaps no truer definition of the phrase this past bowl season than Clowney’s hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith one play after the Wolverines received a bogus first down from the game’s officials.
Of course, there’s a lot of time and plenty of football to be played between now and December, so no one’s confirming his flight to New York quite yet. Just like there’s no guarantee Clowney will succeed at the next level because his 40 time is absurd. It goes without saying that players are significantly better in the NFL and there’s an extra amount of personal sacrifice he will have to make.
The only thing we do know is that Clowney is a rare breed. And NFL organizations already understand that.