Could Jadeveon Clowney play middle linebacker?
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina's coaches have been scratching their heads while trying to come up with a way to keep teams from running away from defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
How about this? Move him to middle linebacker.
The logic behind the move is that it would be tougher to run away from him if he's in the middle. Just coach him up a little bit and tell him "See ball, hit ball."
Let everyone else pick up the pieces from the carnage that ensues.
However, there is a bigger, more compelling reason.
The biggest reason of all is that Jadeveon Clowney is a badass, and historically the game's biggest badasses have played middle linebacker.
Think of the Eagles' Chuck Bednarik, who almost ended Frank Gifford's career with a hit that made Clowney's hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith look like a loving embrace.
Think the Giants' Sam Huff, subject of a CBS documentary titled "The Violent World of Sam Huff."
Think Chicago's Monsters of the Midway—first Dick Butkus and later Mike Singletary and later still Brian Urlacher.
Think Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain with Jack Lambert in the middle.
Think of the Packers' Ray Nitschke—remember when he broke the locker room wall with his head in "the Longest Yard?"
Think the Ravens' Ray Lewis.
Enter Clowney, who at least from a height and weight standpoint (6'6", 274 lbs), would weigh in as the biggest of them all.
Think about it.
Clowney ran a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash in preseason.
Where you gonna run?
South Carolina actually considered middle linebacker for Clowney—on certain plays—prior to last season, but thus far has never actually had him line up there.
Clowney won last year's Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's most outstanding defensive end.
The man for whom the award is named had a College Football Hall of Fame career at Miami as a defensive end followed by a Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Colts, Packers and Raiders as an outside linebacker.
He may not have played in the middle, but Hendricks qualifies as a certified badass.
He says it would be best to leave Clowney right where he is.
"Why would you move him?" Hendricks said Monday by telephone from Denver where he was in town for the Raiders-Broncos game. "He's the best defensive end in the country. Middle linebacker? That's one heck of a transition. They used to try and run away from me too. When that happens, you've got to rely on the guys on the other side to make plays."
Well, OK. It was just a thought.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained first-hand.