There are many people who think South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is taking a huge risk by playing his junior season, since he’s ineligible to enter the NFL draft.
As you might imagine, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, whose mortgage payment rides on the backs of unpaid interns such as Clowney, disagrees.
Clowney himself scoffed at the notion, tweeting “I’m playing lol,” but Spurrier told Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal Constitution he thought the suggestion was off-base.
“Well, I hope he plays this year, and I certainly believe he should play,” Spurrier said. “Now if money was his only goal in life, then he couldn’t play. And he might not get into a car before next year’s draft, so he wouldn’t be in a car wreck and get injured. He would be just very, very careful for a year not to have any kind of injury.
“But Jadeveon likes football. Football players play football. They don’t wait around on this, that or the other. He’s really good about avoiding injuries and so forth. He knows how to get out of harm’s way if there’s a big pileup around a tackle. I think the odds of him getting hurt as not nearly as much as a running back or somebody like that.
“I think he wants to play. I certainly hope and believe he does. I think he should play for South Carolina this season.”
Spurrier said the reaction in the media was understandable, given that it’s the offseason (what are we supposed to talk about, basketball?). But he also disputed the idea that Clowney’s financial security (which he’d enjoy by being a top-five pick, if not higher) was the most important element.
“Most of the guys that say he should sit out, they don’t realize the benefits of being on a college football team, and continuing with your teammates to have as big of a year as you possibly can,” Spurrier said. “The money is going to be there down the road, so why would a person give up the thrill of playing college football?
“Those people have never played football, so they say he should sit out and get the money. That’s the only side of sports they see — the money. There’s a lot more to it than just the money.”
And while there are good and noble intentions for wanting a young man to stay in school, the financial reality is that Clowney is gambling millions on the proposition that his luck is good enough to avoid injury.