Inside Jadeveon Clowney's Helmet-Popping Annihilation of Vincent Smith

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterJanuary 2, 2013

January 1, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) works out prior to the 2013 Outback Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The new year began with quite the bang all thanks to Jadeveon Clowney. The sophomore defensive end extraordinaire from South Carolina brought 2013 in right with the most amazing football play that I have ever seen. Between Michigan's play call and the superior athleticism of Clowney, the stars aligned for absolute football perfection.

In my 28 years, I've spent a lot of time around football. Between practicing, playing, watching highlight tapes and game film, there have been plenty of jaw-dropping moments. Hell, in practice, you see things that most people never dream kids could do. My first game on the sidelines at North Carolina made me privy to a moment most folks still recall as epic:

I was not 10 yards from that on the sidelines watching in awe as Dexter Reid got his top popped by Greg Jones. That was my first real memorable moment as an 18-year-old freshman in Chapel Hill. Yet, even that would not prepare me for the one-play clinic Clowney put on.

When you break the play down the first thing you notice is the alignment. With a corner on the edge, Clowney aligns inside of the tight end and outside of the tackle.

On the snap Clowney explodes off the ball, taking an hard inside route and an upfield push.

A wider look shows that both tight end Mike Kwiatkowski and tackle Taylor Lewan leave Clowney unblocked as they climb to the second level.

The fullback moves to kick out the corner while the backside guard, Patrick Omameh, is going to kick out Jadeveon Clowney.

At least he's supposed to kick out Clowney. Thanks to the elite explosiveness of the sophomore Gamecock, Omameh does not have a chance to get a hand on the defensive end.

Boom. Thanks to Omameh's inability to even come close to blocking the defensive end, Vincent Smith is a footnote in one of the greatest explosion plays we have ever seen.

Finally, we see the most impressive moment, where athleticism is concerned: Clowney scooping the ball up with one paw. Not only does the sophomore shoot through the opening and explode on a ball-carrier, but he then has the presence of mind and the ability to grab the ball and look to return it.

This is special, in every since of the word. Certainly, Michigan's play call created the opening, but most football players do not have the ability to burst through it. At least not in the way that Clowney did. Throw in the athletic recovery of the fumble after the violent collision and you see why, if he could leave today, Clowney would be the first guy picked in the draft. As a sophomore.