Do Jadeveon Clowney's Spring Injuries Reignite Debate About Taking Year Off?

Michael Felder@InTheBleachersNational CFB Lead WriterApril 11, 2013

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 01:  Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks rushes up field during a 33 - 28  victory against the Michigan Wolverines in the Outback Bowl January 1, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

I certainly hope South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is going to be fully healthy by the time the 2013 college football season kicks off.

Partly, and I'll admit selfishly, because it is a conversation that I'm just flat-out sick of having. It was interesting for about two days when it first came up.

I've talked about it here at Your Best 11. My colleague at the SEC Blog, Barrett Sallee, talked about it as well. Hell, we've talked about it with each other on The Program.

Everyone talked and tweeted and debated the situation.

Then, thankfully, Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina put that baby to bed. The phenom was back, practicing in spring with his teammates.

Well, until news of Clowney's injury got out. As ESPN pointed out, he is likely going to sit the rest of spring as a precautionary measure. That includes Saturday's spring game.

To the folks on the "he should sit out" side of the debate: Take a break and realize what "precautionary" means. The kid has some neck and back pain. That's not cervical stenosis. That's not a Peyton Manning neck issue that needs surgery to fuse the vertebrae together.

As defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said Wednesday to ESPN, "South Carolina fans should not be concerned at all. He would be cleared to play if it was a regular season game on Saturday."

South Carolina is not parking Clowney out of fear the injury is going to progress into some career-ending ailment. No, it is giving him the rest of spring off because it already knows what he can do. Everyone just wants him to go into summer in tip-top shape.

Why spend spring reps on a slightly injured Clowney when you can rest him and find out what the lesser-known guys on the roster can do? No. 7 being out means more reps for everyone at the defensive end position, and more reps means more opportunity to evaluate and teach for the coaches.

It is the same reason coaches with an established starter at quarterback focus more on the backup QB battle in spring than they do on the starter. It's the same reason established players with nagging injuries get surgery and sit out during spring ball.

This isn't new, and it's not different.

Spring ball wraps up this weekend for the Gamecocks, and the next big item on the horizon is the offseason program. That's lifting, running and getting conditioning work in to be ready for the late-August date with the Tar Heels.

Jadeveon Clowney, get your stimulation, ultrasound, combo treatments and massages in so that the stiffness and pain dissipate. That way you can hit the weights and get to running to prepare for Larry Fedora's fast-break offense come the fall.

We don't need to revisit the debate. Let's leave it exactly where it belonged after the news cycle wore it out: dead, buried and gone.