Neck Injury May Keep South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney out for Rest of Spring

Randy ChambersAnalyst IApril 10, 2013

Update - April 10, 2:49 PM ET:

Both defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney have spoken to ESPN to kind of settle things down when it comes to the hyperventilating of South Carolina fans. Ward said that the star defensive player would be ready to go if this weekend was a regular season game.

"South Carolina fans should not be concerned at all," Ward said in a phone interview with ESPN. "He would be cleared to play if it was a regular season game on Saturday. Jadeveon plays with a reckless abandon. He will not pull himself back on the field this year. That's not how he practices or plays. He will be full bore in the fall."

As for Clowney, he says that he is more concerned with learning the playbook. After all, we all know what he is already capable of doing on the field.

"My back and neck are hurting me," Clowney told reporters Tuesday. "I should be OK coming out of spring ball. I should be coming around soon, hopefully.

"We'll have to see [if I practice again]. That's up to the coaches.

"It's not really about being out here. It's about learning the playbook. We put in some new stuff, so all I have to do is learn the play calls. The rest of it I'll catch up on."

This should end any and all speculation that Clowney will miss any playing time once the regular season rolls around.

End of update -----------

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney won't sit out the regular season, but he is likely out for the remainder of spring practice. According to the official South Carolina website (h/t College Football Talk), the Heisman candidate has suffered a neck sprain and will probably be held out of spring drills, including the spring game this weekend:

Jadeveon Clowney did not practice again on Tuesday and it’s uncertain whether he will practice again this spring, due to a neck sprain. “His neck and back is still stiff. Whether he goes another snap (this spring), I don’t care,” said [defensive coordinator Lorenzo] Ward.

Now is not the time for Gamecocks fans to hit the panic button. The reason Ward said he doesn't care if Clowney participates anymore in the spring is because he is one of the few players who doesn't really need practice. Clowney has already proven he is a game-changer and arguably the best defensive player in the last decade of college football.

As for the injury, sitting out is probably nothing more than a precaution. Having a stiff neck and back can be aggravating, but this shouldn't be anything that limits him during the regular season as long as he takes care of himself. The spring game isn't anything serious, especially when you are one of the best players in the world, so sitting out this weekend shouldn't be that big of an issue.

Before the news of his injuries went viral, some were making the case that Clowney should sit out the entire year to avoid getting hurt. He is likely the top overall pick in next year’s NFL draft, and some believe he has nothing more to prove but everything to lose if he sustains a devastating injury this season. South Carolina fans are used to seeing key players go down; they don't need to be reminded about Marcus Lattimore over the years.

Thankfully the injury doesn't appear to be serious, and Clowney should be ready to go once the games that actually count begin.