Here we are, only a month and change into the college football offseason, and we're already struggling for storylines.
One that popped up on Monday was the idea that South Carolina Gamecocks star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should sit out the 2013 season and prepare for the 2014 NFL draft.
The idea comes from Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer. Sorensen writes that Clowney, who is ineligible for the 2013 NFL draft due to the fact that he's only two years removed from high school, has already accomplished all that he needs to accomplish at the college level and can only hurt his draft stock by playing for the Gamecocks in 2013.
On the surface, he's right.
ESPN.com's Mel Kiper Jr. said in December 2012 that Clowney would be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft if he were eligible.
It's impossible to project if that will also be the case in 2014 due to the fact that we don't know which team will have the first pick. But it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Clowney isn't drafted No. 1 by either the team that "earned" the pick or one that trades up to select the 6'6", 256-pound monster.
I don't think many people would even criticize him all that much. After all, people go to college to prepare for their careers, and Clowney's career—at least for the immediate future—is professional football.
But come on, are we really going to let injury paranoia take precedent over the game?
Personally, there isn't much more for Clowney to do in Columbia. But he is the biggest piece of what could be a championship puzzle this season. Not just an SEC championship, but perhaps something bigger.
The joy of playing with your teammates aside, South Carolina has a legitimate shot at winning the SEC East title and putting itself in position to win the SEC and the crystal football.
The Gamecocks get Georgia in Week 2—right when head coach Steve Spurrier likes it—have a bye week before the SEC finale at home versus Florida and draw Arkansas and Mississippi State out of the SEC West.
Not a bad slate.
And Sorensen thinks Clowney should hang his teammates out to dry to ensure that he doesn't wreck his future?
College football is a stepping stone for most players, and that's OK. But dedication to the team still matters to most players.
The idea of Clowney sitting out a season to prepare for the NFL isn't totally outrageous, but it's also not going to happen.