The Houston Texans have the first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier thinks they will have a difficult decision to make between Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
“I guess he’d like to play there in his home state,” Spurrier said in an interview with NFL Network when asked about Manziel suggesting the Texans would be making a mistake in passing on him in the NFL Draft. “I don’t know what they’re gonna do. He’s a dang good player, we all know that, and I think he’s going to be an excellent pro but obviously Jadeveon is a talent that doesn’t come around every year.”
Manziel recently made headlines by making it clear to the Texans that not drafting him with the top pick would be a mistake. Clowney is expected to be one of the top players drafted as well. Spurrier’s comments came moments after he made a comment about Clowney’s work ethic, which has been a bit of a topic of conversation over the past year. At first, Spurrier’s response comes off a bit surprising, until you realize we are talking about Spurrier.
“It was OK,” Spurrier said. “It wasn’t like [former South Carolina running back] Marcus Lattimore, you know, every player is a little different. But when the ball’s snapped, he’s got an explosion like you’ve never seen before.”
Without hearing the context of the conversation, Spurrier’s comments might lead some to think he was criticizing Clowney, but in hearing the interview the reaction may be different. Besides, it has been documented how Spurrier has come out in the public to possibly inspire Clowney to get on the field. He did so multiple times last fall as Clowney was banged up and unable to play at 100 percent at times. Whether this was friction between player and coach or just Spurrier being Spurrier is something Spurrier and Clowney may only know for sure.
Clowney’s work ethic may be worth questioning during the NFL Scouting Combine and leading up to the draft, but Spurrier did comment on how Clowney faced double team coverage time and time again and he still managed to have an impact on the game any time he was on the field even if the stats fail to show it. Spurrier commented on Clowney’s progression not being up to par with the progression seen a year ago, but when you are one of the top defensive players in the game the question should be how much more progression should be expected before going to the next level?