Top national recruit Jadaveon Clowney announced this morning on ESPN’s SportsCenter that he would be taking his talents to the University of South Carolina. Clowney is perhaps the most heralded prep star since King James himself. But while LeBron jumped straight to the Pros, Clowney had to decide which college would be lucky enough to land his talents (Sorry Miami, but South Beach was not in the cards for this “Decision”).
On Valentine’s Day – and his 18th birthday – Clowney decided to go with his heart and a mother’s love and stay close to home, stating, “My mom can come see me all the time.” Clowney also cited friends, both close to home and South Carolina signees, as another reason, singling out teammate Gerald Dixon.
Clowney chose South Carolina over finalists Alabama and Clemson. The other two teams made strong cases, particularly Clemson with a strong eleventh hour push. Clemson’s late surge is one of the reasons Clowney decided not to sign on Feb 2, National Signing Day. But ultimately, the familiarity and comfort South Carolina offered was too much. Friends and family were important, but so were the connections Clowney made with the South Carolina coaching staff.
Clowney cited two coaches in particular: “I have a real good relationship with [defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson]. But an even better one with coach [Lorenzo] Ward," Clowney said. "We got real close.”
With Clowney’s commitment, South Carolina jumps up into the top 15 on ESPNU’s class rankings. The SEC now has 7 of the Top 15, asserting its dominance and place at the head of the table in college football. Alabama missed out on Clowney but still hold down the No. 2 spot, with the signing of Cyrus Kouandjio, who verbally committed to Auburn on Signing Day, but never signed. Auburn sits one spot behind them, with a strong follow up to last year’s top 10 recruiting class and the 2011 BCS National Championship. It looks like Auburn and Alabama will continue their winning ways for years to come. We can only hope so.