If it were possible for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to live up to the hype that being the consensus No. 1 overall player in the Class of 2011 brought, he did it as a true freshman.
The Rock Hill, S.C. native finished with eight sacks, two shy of the South Carolina single-season record, and earned Freshman of the Year honors from the SEC's coaches.
Lorenzo Ward, who is in his first season running the defense even though he's held the title of defensive coordinator since 2009, already experimented this spring with moving Clowney down to defensive tackle in certain situations to create mismatches.
And now, this nugget from South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier via Josh Kendall at The State.
Look for Jadeveon Clowney at MLB some this year, Steve Spurrier says.— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) August 6, 2012
That sound you hear is offensive coordinators throughout the SEC crying.
Will Jadeveon Clowney succeed as a middle linebacker?
Giving Clowney three more steps to get going certainly adds one more thing for offensive coordinators to worry about in 2012, and adds another wrinkle for opposing teams to deal with at the line of scrimmage to make sure that everybody is on the same page.
The 6'6", 256-pound monster has the size and speed to play at all three of the positions mentioned. Plus, Devin Taylor is still there to lock down one end of the line and the coaching staff is high on Byron Jerideau at defensive tackle. So moving Clowney around those two players in a variety of ways could certainly benefit the 2012 Gamecocks.
Is it a ploy by Spurrier to mess with the heads of his opponents?
Of course it is.
But now there's at least a possibility of it actually happening, and opposing coaches will have to plan accordingly.
That'll be fun.
For Clowney, it will be beneficial too. It appears that he will be getting work in the nation's best conference in a variety of roles as a sophomore, which will only help his draft stock when he decides to make the jump to the NFL.