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Jadeveon Clowney is truly a man amongst boys in college.
South Carolina defensive tackle Jadeveon Clowney has been in the news lately for choosing to play college football next season, a seemingly non-controversial decision. Ah, but he is no ordinary football player.
Clowney is widely considered the best NFL prospect in each of the next two years. Because of the league’s eligibility requirements, however, he cannot enter the 2013 draft.
To avoid injury, some people have suggested that he skip his junior year to secure his status as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. Given the gruesome knee injury suffered by Clowney’s former teammate, running back Marcus Lattimore, you could not blame Clowney for considering it.
While the financial reward for being a top-10 pick is substantially less than it was even three years ago, given the NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement, it is still life-changing money. No college football player has gone this route yet, but the move is not without precedent.
Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings famously skipped college altogether, deciding to play oversees for a year before becoming the tenth pick in the 2009 NBA draft.
Washington Nationals outfielder—and 2012 NL Rookie of the Year—Bryce Harper took process even further.
He dropped out of high school after his sophomore year, got his G.E.D. and played JUCO ball for a season to accelerate his MLB draft clock. That neat trick made Harper the No. 1 pick in the 2011 MLB Amateur draft.
I respect Clowney’s decision to stick by his teammates for another year. I also would have understood had he decided that continuing to play on Saturdays was not worth jeopardizing his ability to eventually play on Sundays.