The SEC has the two biggest stars in college football—Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney. That's been on full display this week. With the attention both players received at SEC Media Days and their presence at the ESPY awards, all eyes are on them entering the 2013 season.
Johnny Manziel is the player who receives more of the media spotlight and criticism. He has brought much of the attention on himself with some of his actions off the field and his lively Twitter account. He regularly refers to himself as "just a 20-year old college kid," but he's also spending his offseason in NBA locker rooms, MLB dugouts and at prestigious awards shows.
Essentially, he does what no other 20-year-old college kid in America is doing.
Brock Huard of ESPN made a comment yesterday about how he thinks Johnny Manziel enjoys the spotlight and receiving the LeBron-like attention. Yet, there is a different guy in the SEC who most resembles LeBron James.
It's Jadeveon Clowney.
Anyone who follows college football or the NFL knows about Clowney. Actually, many people knew about him four years ago when he was a junior in high school. He was talked about as a transcendent player with unbelievable athleticism who would become an unstoppable superstar.
During Clowney's senior season, he recorded 162 tackles, 29.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and scored five touchdowns on defense. By the way, he also played some running back, carrying the ball 32 times for 277 yards and nine touchdowns.
Clowney was the undisputed No. 1 recruit in America when he graduated in 2011, and many considered him to be one of the best players in the history of high school football.
The 6'6", 247-pound defensive end with incredible strength and speed was a phenom, and everyone knew it before he even graduated from high school. Sound like anyone familiar from the game of basketball?
LeBron James was talked about in the same regard during his high school career in Akron, Ohio.
And much like James, Clowney has lived up to the hype.
Despite incredible expectations, Jadeveon Clowney has proved that he's as good as everyone thought he we would be.
He was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2011 and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.
Although he regularly faces double-teams, chip blocks and any type of offensive scheme possible to slow him down, Clowney still recorded 13 sacks last season, which was third in the nation. He also had one of the most unbelievable hits and fumble recoveries you'll ever see in South Carolina's Outback Bowl victory over Michigan.
Clowney enters his junior season as the most dominant defensive player in college football and a preseason candidate to win the Heisman Trophy.
He's the type of player who requires the complete attention of the opposition. Even when teams do everything they can to stop him, he still figures out a way to make a play. And if an offense puts too much focus on him, it creates opportunities for Clowney's teammates.
In many ways, it's like the attention LeBron James creates when he has the ball in his hands and he attacks the basket.
Everyone thought Jadeveon Clowney would be great, but we didn't realize he'd be this great.But like LeBron James, Clowney's ability is simply unbelievable.