Jadeveon Clowney: South Carolina Football Star's Hit One for the Ages

Alex Roberts@@alexCoAbassCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2013

Clowney says, "I hope you like Bloomin' Onions".
Clowney says, "I hope you like Bloomin' Onions".Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Hopefully you've all seen it by now: During the Outback Bowl, Jadeveon Clowney burst through the Michigan offensive line en route to absolutely destroying Michigan running back Vincent Smith and grabbing the ensuing fumble like it was a loaf of bread. 

If you haven't, you need to. It's one of the most stunning feats a defensive end has ever performed in college football. 

Clowney is expected to be a beast on every defensive play. He's the first sophomore player to ever win the Ted Hendricks Award for outstanding defensive end, and he finished sixth in the Heisman vote. 

So of course big things are expected. He's had a season full of highlights that will live on in Gamecock lore. 

What makes this play so special other than the obvious athletic explosion? 

The circumstances that led up to the play. 

After witnessing the most incredible act of referee stupidity, the Gamecocks had their backs to the wall. Michigan had the lead, the ball and the odd good favor of the refs. This is a situation where the Gamecocks could have crumbled, their spirits dashed by the odd ruling on the field and the feeling of helplessness that often follows.  

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Not Clowney. He dug deep and for one play gave every ounce of energy he had to make it right. He single-handedly changed the outcome of the game and righted the wrongs of the referees. 

After that, the Gamecocks were on fire. Quarterback Connor Shaw hit Ace Sanders for a huge touchdown on the subsequent play. The Wolverines would answer, but Dylan Thompson would hit Bruce Ellington at the end of the game to win it for the Gamecocks. 

Clowney's hit was important for more than just the sheer athleticism. It set off a chain of events that led to the team's victory. His heart, explosiveness and refusal to quit highlight what makes Clowney more than just an athletic monster.

He's a game-changing defensive end who willed this team to victory in the season-ending bowl game.

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